Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 3

We are continuing to work through the devotional by Kay Arthur, Lord Is It Warfare?  The focus is on the fact that the devil often fills the role of a roaring lion.  What follows are the notes that I have written in my journal. 

-Of all the names in Scripture for the devil, none is used more frequently than Satan.  It is used 55 times in the OT/NT.  (1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 1:6; 1:7; 1:8; 1:9; 1:12; 2:1; 2:2; 2:3; 2:4; 2:6; 2:7; Psalm 109:6; Zechariah 3:1; 3:2; Matthew 4:10; 12:26; 16:23; Mark 1:13; 3:23; 3:26; 4:15; 8:33; Luke 4:8; 10:18; 11:18; 13:16; 22:3; 22:31; John 13:27; Acts 5:3; 26:18; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 7:5; 2 Corinthians 2:11; 11:14; 12:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Timothy 1:20; 5:15; Revelation 2:9; 2:13; 2:24; 3:9; 12:9; 20:2; 20:7.)

-Devil—DIABOLOS—Accuser, slanderer, from the verb that means to attack, to curse, to be an adversary, to resist.  All of these actions are the way that he will choose to operate in our lives.  Whatever is necessary to cause chaos and opposition is the goal. Thirty-five times he is called, devil, meaning “slanderer.”  (Matthew 4:1; 4:5; 4:8; 4:11; 9:32; 9:33; 12:22; 13:39; 15:22; 17:18; 25:41; Mark 5:15; 5:16; 5:18; 7:26; 7:29; 7:30; Luke 4:2; 4:3; 4:5; 4:6; 4:13; 4:33; 4:35; 7:33; 8:12; 8:29; 9:42; 11:14; John 6:70; 7:20; 8:44; 13:2; Acts 10:38; 13:10; Ephesians 4:27; 6:11; l Timothy 3:6; 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26; Hebrews 2:14; James 4:7; l Peter 5:8; l John 3:8; 3:10; Jude 10; Revelation 2:10; 12:9; 12:12; 20:2; 20:10.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 2

Thanks to all who have sent e-mails and other social media messages that have encouraged me that this is helping.  As always, I think that what John Wesley wrote in one of his journals more than a hundred years ago about how that spiritual growth and reading the Bible and devotional material were very closely linked.  Frequently I give great consideration to the blessing that we have for being able to read especially when the statistics note that the majority of the world’s population cannot read and are illiterate.  There is some benefit to writing down lists in your journal of the simple things in life that you can be thankful for.  Such as being able to read, clean water, antibiotics, a functioning city sewage system, a yard that needs mowing, glasses, peanut butter, and a bag of jalapeno flavored kettle chips.  Thank God that you are able to sit up and read a book late at night in a quiet den or living room on a sofa or easy chair.  Gratitude flows when you start writing down your blessings!  Paul encouraged us that in everything we are to give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18). 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 3, Day 1

We are back in the saddle again after taking off a week from the devotional, Lord, Is It Warfare? by Kay Arthur.  I would like to reflect some on the layout of the book.  I have not blogged about Days 6 or 7 from Week 1 or 2 but there are some very valuable insights to be gained as you walk through the process of the book.  The book is designed in such a way that it walks you through various passages of Scripture and allows you to gather insight as you work in a topical manner.  I would also note that for those who are ministers or teachers of Bible study groups that I have gathered somewhat of a guess in the resources that the author uses.  Two old resources used much in generations of the past before everything came to us in electronic format was Nave’s Topical Bible and the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.  Orville Nave works at the Bible exactly as his text suggests, in a topical manner.  The TSK is a bit different but is one of the most massive and intense cross-referencing systems of Scripture that I am personally aware of.  If there is another one that is more powerful, I am not aware of it.  Both of these tools are extremely helpful to one who is working in the Word. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 5

Week 2, Day 5 of Lord, Is It Warfare? opens up a huge and somewhat muddy theological answer that has been debated and argued for a long time perhaps even centuries.  The looming question is ‘did God create evil?’  Did he create the devil purposely to trip us up?  Did the devil have a free-will as man did?  Those types of questions can fit into the place that Paul told Timothy to avoid.  He told him that there are questions that simply create and “gender strifes” (2 Tim. 2:23) and he told him to avoid those kinds of things.  It has been my experience that oftentimes some of the foolishness in the name of “academics” that goes on in seminary classrooms do not strengthen faith in the Word or confidence in God.  So this is one of those sorts of questions.  I am aware of one thing in this matter; I have been filled with the Spirit. . . It empowers me. . . but I have an enemy who wants to destroy me!  That is the fact and there will be a struggle between good and evil until God intervenes. 

From the Scriptural passages the devotional brings out, it is noted in John 1:1-3, Nehemiah 9:5-6, and Colossians 1:15-16 that all things were created by God.  I made a connection by reading a little further over in John 3 that men choose darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.  Therefore I would come to a conclusion that at some point apparently the devil possessed a will that moved him toward the trap of pride and he attempted to exalt himself against God. 

The lesson that I need to take away from this would be the fact that I must live out Romans 6 and fight against the tendency for pride to consume me.  The only way to effectively live above and beyond this is for my life to have a complete dependence on the Spirit and walk out Romans 8 so that my mind is Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.  Pride in the heart of the devil is what led to him being expelled from heaven.  Remember that Jesus said it is not what is on the outside that soils a man’s life but rather the things that are stored in his heart (Mark 7:20-23). 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 3 & 4

I am again combining two days of Lord, Is It Warfare? because the length of Day 3 was comparatively short and I chose not to go down a rabbit trail although as you shall see, I did with Day 4.  Day 3 dealt with the Ezekiel 28 passage that describes a lamentation or a funeral dirge of sorts for the king of Tyre.  But as you look at the passage, there are a couple of observations about different words in verse 2 as compared to verse 12.  My primary translation for this devotional study has been the ESV. 

The word “prince” appears in 28:2 and comes from the Hebrew word, NAGID which has the connotation as a ruler, leader, prince, or a captain.  This position would be commonly for a leader in government, religion, or the military.  The word “king” is used in 28:12 which uses the Hebrew word, MELEK.  It is most commonly used for a man who is in a position of control of a city-state, small nation or government.    But there is a further idea that Ezekiel develops when he notes that it is speaking of a cherub.  This reduces the equation to the fact that this king of Tyre was a symbolic figure that could be the role of the devil.  This cherub would have been a dark angel or demon who was in charge of a group of angels.  This would define the role that the devil filled as we remember that Lucifer was one of the archangels.  At this point, the devotional encourages us to make the connection between the Garden of Eden as described in Genesis and the account that is given in Ezekiel 28.  I would think that we could see the very clear connection between the two especially when we look at the symbols and types that are used in other places in Scripture. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 2 & A Short Rabbit Trail

This study guide, devotional Lord, Is It Warfare? has been designed in such a way that we are asked questions that aren’t leading but rather to help us to get to an understanding of what the Bible has to say about spiritual warfare.  Years ago, I can remember a writer, whom I have long forgotten, giving the advice that we are to interrogate the text when we are studying Scripture.  This is a very effective way to gain more than just a superficial knowledge of Scripture.  If you can recall the old description of an adverb, it is a word that describes who, what, when, where, and to what extent.  Those are useful questions to ask when you are looking at the Bible.

When we take a first look at the enemy, who is deceptive, deadly, and intent on destroying everyone who is in allegiance with Jesus Christ, we find him in Genesis 3.  A couple of other OT chapters also give a description of him.  There is the brief allusion that Isaiah makes in Isaiah 14 and there is a bit longer region in Ezekiel 28.  It is a passage that has reference to the king of Tyre but many biblical scholars also hold that imagery used by Ezekiel would fit the bill for the devil also.  What causes us to come to this view is because of the words that the prophet uses would in no way entirely describe a man.  While there are some descriptions that would fit a human king, there are also words that help us to see that the devil would qualify in this description also.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 1

I am going into the second week of the study guide/devotional by Kay Arthur, Lord, Is It Warfare?  Today we come at the concept of spiritual warfare with a bit of a different angle.  The first emphasis that should garner our attention is Jesus Christ.  All spiritual warfare must began with the understanding that the devil has been defeated at Calvary and through the work of the Cross.  The enemy has been defeated at the present moment, he has been allowed to operate on the earth until his appointed time of judgment.  Since one of the primary themes of Ephesians deals with this matter of spiritual warfare, it is clear that Paul came to some conclusions when he wrote Ephesians 1:15-23, in fact there are three truths to understand:

1.      1:18—There is a hope to which we have been called.  That hope helps us to understand that there is a point in the future of which we will have rest from the attack of the enemy.
2.      1:18—The riches of this inheritance or position has been given to us and is clear through the work of the Holy Spirit. 
3.      1:19—There is an immeasurable power given to the saint of God through the resurrection.

Jesus Christ is in a heavenly place.  He has all power, authority, dominion, and rule over the dark world of evil.  However, if this is the case then why is there a conflict that a born-again man has to contend with?  If the Lord has all the power in the in this world and the one we cannot see, then why the seeming triumph of evil right now?  Those are valid questions to consider.  These questions fall into a category called theodicy which basically is an understanding of why God allows evil to exist in our world.  Volumes and volumes have been written on this subject and there is no way to give an explanation in this very brief blog post.  It is perhaps a rabbit trail for another day.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Days 4 & 5

One of the things that this study guide, Lord, Is It Warfare? works toward is getting our minds to think in a biblical direction about spiritual warfare.  One of the benefits of this is that it will move your mind to areas of Scripture and characters that exemplify the principles.  Day 4 and Day 5 are both relatively short although is some more interaction with Scripture that is necessary.  By virtue of this, you make a strong connection between the events of Acts 19 and the principles that are expressed in Ephesians 6.  One thing that comes to mind is the closing out of Ephesians 5 and beginning of Ephesians 6 where Paul speaks of marriage and the family.  The reality of the matter of it all is that these too can be battlegrounds that the enemy will attempt to insert himself into.  While spiritual warfare takes place in the heavens, it is played out in a very practical setting where we live our lives. 

Ephesus, because of occultic influence, was a place that was driven by fear.  The shamans, pagan priests, and others given to the influence of the “curious arts” (defined as such in Acts 19) played and preyed on the fears of the people.  This caused me to consider the aspects of America culture where that we pay money to experience fear.  However, I would cause you to think in this way with me.  If the enemy can cause fear and use themes that have ominous spiritual outcomes to be confined to a movie screen, the viewer’s compartmentalize it and believe that there is nothing to it.  What a brilliant move but very deadly move by the enemy.  Kay Arthur notes, “Films, TV, and recorded music evidence increasing control from the ‘dark side.’  Occult images fill even children’s films, cartoons, and video games.”    

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Day 3

We are to Day 3, in the first week of Kay Arthur’s Lord, Is It Warfare? study guide.  You need fair warning to know that this entry today will force you to think through some matters that are facing our society today.  One of the spiritual battles that we face on a regular basis is when a there is a developing fearfulness of speaking about these things and how that you will be perceived among your friends.  It is very interesting the subtle peer pressure that is prevalent in the church these days both among ministers and members when we speak something that is solidly Word-based that is opposed to a humanistic bent.  Say what you will but this is spiritual warfare!  The same spirit pushing on Jehudi to take a penknife to Jeremiah’s words in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 36:23) wants to do the very same thing today. 

To combat this and other attacks, Paul gave us some instructions:

·        Be strong in the Lord—v. 10
·        Put on the whole armor of God—v. 11
·        Take the whole armor—v. 13
·        Stand—v. 13
·        Stand—v. 14
·        Put on the belt of Truth—v. 14
·        Have the breastplate of holiness/righteousness in place—v. 14
·        Put the shoes of the Gospel on your feet—v. 15
·        Take the shield of faith—v. 16
·        Take the helmet of salvation—v. 17
·        Take the Sword of the Spirit, the Word—v. 17

The following format is the manner that I have recorded these notes in my journal.  It does not follow an active paragraph style. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Day 2

I am continuing from yesterday as we go through the devotional study guide (study guide is a serious understatement) by Kay Arthur, Lord Is It Warfare?  I am in much encouragement of you working with this book and a handwritten journal.  At the end of this, I am certain that you will feel a sense of accomplishment but even more than that you are going to have developed a sense of understanding of what Scripture has to say about the matter of spiritual warfare.  Furthermore for those who serve in churches as Sunday School teachers, Bible study group leaders, and even pastors, you are going to find a wealth of material that will come to you at the right time as you are teaching.

One quick note of explanation for those who are not familiar with some of the Greek language that the New Testament was written in.  On yesterday’s post you would have noticed that after the words for flesh, lust, and war from 1 Peter 2:11 in yesterday’s blog there was a “G” followed by a number.  This is the system that was developed in the original Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance used by Bible scholars, preachers, and teachers who did not have a background in the Greek language.  Instead of having to know the language, the student could work with the number system. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 1, Day 1

One of the top ten books for me in the honorable mention category from last year was KayArthur’s book, Lord, Is It Warfare?  I did use it in some of my own personal devotions but as I worked through it, I discovered that as a pastor, this book was a launching pad of sorts to go beyond the exercises that had been given in the book.  Therefore, over the next several weeks, I have intentions of putting some of my scribblings from the book margins and from my own personal journals that I composed.  Obviously the study guide has some areas of personal reflection and evaluation that I will leave out for understandable reasons.  I would encourage you if you are a regular reader of this blog to take some time to consider what will be covered.  Also I would greatly encourage you to get the book, get a journal, and get a pen and write.  For me, it ended up being about an hour time allotment but it will become one of the most eye-opening hours that you will spend during that day.    

Spiritual warfare can be a slippery path that can lean toward fanaticism or formalism.  At the end of the day what we must take into consideration is what Scripture clearly and accurately addresses in this area.  If you have been in Pentecostal circles for any length of time, you have probably heard some very fanciful stories relating to this subject.  I am in that camp!  I have heard some of the most far-fetched stories that as the years have rolled on, I have dismissed them as pure imagination of the teller who had a motive of self-aggrandizement mixed with too much exposure to Hollywood.  On the other hand, because my father-in-law has been a district global missions director for over 30 years, my exposure to missionaries has probably been much higher than that of the average pastor.  Friends, neighbors and all ya’ll in between, when a missionary comes to town, the vast majority of them can tell you some very clear and accurate things concerning the dark side of the spiritual battle.  I would encourage you to spend time with these men and women and listen to what they have to say.