Saints & Soldiers

undefined Two of my favorite fictional novels are This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. In the former, Peretti weaves together a very realistic storyline with a backdrop of the supernatural to form a cohesive plot that reveals the existence of the spiritual realms and the spiritual warfare occurring behind the scenes. It is an exciting page turner that I encourage you to read if you haven’t already.

Likewise, Lewis draws for us a behind the scenes picture of the ways the devil tries to manipulate events in our realm to his advantage. The Screwtape Letters is, essentially, a collection of 31 letters written by Screwtape, a devil, to his evil and rather incompetent minion, Wormwood. The book is both humorous and eye-opening. As I read it I started visualizing how some of the letters could be reflective of my own circumstances at the time.

Both of these literary works are fictional, yet they reflect a certain aspect of reality we all too often ignore….that there truly is a spiritual battle happening in real life. Behind the scenes, one could say, because we do not see this battle occurring with our eyes; but intrinsically, I think most of us at least suspect it is occurring. And if our suspicions aren’t enough to convince us, then the Bible certainly should; Paul tells the church in Ephesus about it: “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

This is not the only reference in the Bible to the battle that occurs in the spiritual realm. In the book of Colossians, Paul mentions how Jesus’ resurrection disarmed and publicly shamed the spiritual rulers and authorities: “In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.” (Colossians 2:15) And Peter tells us to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Clearly, there is more to life than what we see with our eyes. I honestly think even those who don’t believe in Jesus sense the spiritual realm, too, and some of them even try to tap into it through such evil practices as séances, Ouija boards, psychic readings, consultations with mediums, etc. While occult practices are nothing new, we see them condemned in the Old Testament (ie: Leviticus 19:31), there has been a rise in their practice in recent years. For example, those practicing Wicca have increased dramatically in the last 30 years. I would propose to you that this fact also supports the reality of the spiritual warfare that is occurring in the heavenly realms.

My perception is that the tumultuousness we see this year is a direct reflection of the battle occurring in the spiritual realm. Satan is mounting an offensive and we see the direct results in our current events such as the Covid 19 pandemic, the rioting and looting that occurred after the tragic incident in Minneapolis, the extreme political division that has found its way into our family relationships, our friendships, and even our churches. All of this points to the reality of Ephesians 6:12.

So what are we to do? Paul had the answer for the Ephesians and this answer is the same for us today: “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” (Ephesians 6:13-18)

The battle is very real, though we do not see it directly. But victory is assured for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Do you belong to Christ? If not, why not make today the day of your salvation? God desires that you be saved and he longs for you to ask him. It is easy, start by getting alone. Take some time to truly reflect on your life and your need for God. You probably sense the spiritual battle already so you know this is real. After you have reflected and you feel it in your heart, say a prayer something like this: “Dear Lord, I know I have sinned and I know you are real. Please forgive me. Thank you for Jesus and help me make him Lord of my life that I might start living as a child of God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

If you said that prayer today, the next step is to find a strong, Bible-based church you can attend regularly. Contact us and we’d be happy to help. Just drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To learn more about a relationship with Jesus, please visit: KnowGod.org

For a bit more depth on God’s armor, read our blog: Battle Ready

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Honor Among Thieves

Honor Among Thieves  Leon had carefully prepared for his day. He had several stops planned on his route and wanted to be sure he had the proper look. He chose his new Wrangler jeans, his favorite Carhartt shirt, and his well-worn Red Wing boots. He topped off the look with his black USA flag baseball cap. He couldn’t completely avoid being seen by people today, but he didn’t want to stand out or be particularly memorable. Just an ordinary guy going about his ordinary business. He’d walked through this neighborhood a few times before, so he wouldn’t be an entirely new face, and he counted on that familiarity and his “every man” look to provide a sort of hidden-in-plain-sight kind of cover.

But someone did notice him today. As he walked up the driveway of 149 West Street and around the corner into the backyard, he caught the eye of old lady Brownswick. She lived across the street and she knew her neighbors were visiting Israel on vacation. Their dream vacation – walking where Jesus walked – and their excitement drove them to make sure everyone in the neighborhood knew; but especially Mrs. Brownswick. Because they knew she would keep good watch on their home during their absence. And that she did. So when she saw Leon slip around to the backyard, she immediately called the police.

And as Leon came back out of the house at 149 West Street, he walked almost directly into the arms of waiting police officers, who promptly placed him under arrest. In the normal course of the process, police searched Leon and found several of the ordinary items an adult male might carry, but one item in particular caught the arresting officer’s attention. It was a small piece of paper, folded neatly in Leon’s wallet. The officer unfolded the paper and found, much to his surprise, Leon’s personal code of conduct, a list of five rules he operated by:

  • Never steal from a single mom
  • Never kill anyone
  • Don’t hurt small animals; stay away from large ones
  • Don’t make a mess of people’s homes
  • Don’t feel guilty, insurance companies will pay for what you take

“Oh, here we have an honorable thief,” thought the officer, as he chuckled and starting showing the paper to the other officers on scene. They all had a good laugh and they mocked Leon without mercy as they placed him in the back of the patrol car. Those rules had served Leon quite well over the last three years, ever since he left his job as a jewelry store employee and started his criminal career. He knew how to spot high quality jewelry and stealing it made him far more money than selling it retail, at least until today. And thanks to those rules, he never had to feel guilty about any of it. At least, that’s what he thought at the moment, but that would soon change when he stood before the judge at his sentencing.

In case you’re wondering, Leon is a purely fictional character, made up to illustrate a point – that we are all kind of like Leon to some extent. For do we not all have our own “personal code of conduct” that guides our daily lives? And just as Leon tried to differentiate himself from other, less considerate and more violent criminals, do we not also compare ourselves to others who we feel are worse people than ourselves? Who among us has not thought himself or herself to be “mostly good” or “better than” another human being?

But the truth is, way deep down inside, we each know we have done wrong. So when we compare ourselves to others to feel better, are we not truly just pursuing honor among thieves?

The Bible tells us that “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) And even though we may not have specifically read God’s law, we demonstrate that it is written in our hearts when our own conscience and thoughts either accuse us or tell us we are doing right (see Romans 2:14-15). None of us would ever claim to another person that we are perfect, so we are being disingenuous if we claim, even to ourselves, that we are without sin. Therefore, we often resort to creating for ourselves a sort of curve upon which we hope God will grade us. “We may not be perfect, but at least we never….(insert name of some specifically horrible sin here).”

But even though our personal sins may be on what we perceive to be the minor end of the scale, a thief only has to steal one little thing to be labeled a thief. A liar only has to tell one small lie to be labeled a liar. And, indeed, the Bible tells us “the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.” (James 2:10) So we know God doesn’t grade on a scale. He is a perfect, righteous, and loving judge and, as such, he must punish sin where ever it is found just like a just judge must impose a penalty even for a minor crime such as speeding. And if we claim we have no sin, or our sin is not as bad as someone else’s, we are only fooling ourselves, and it only shows that the truth is not in us. (see 1 John 1:8).

But the same holy and just God who must punish sin wherever it is found, loved us so much he paid the penalty on our behalf so that we do not have to suffer the eternal consequence. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) All we need to do to assure we avail ourselves of this love is to repent and believe. “In fact, it (The Bible) says, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart. And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” (Romans 10:8-11)

So don’t be like Leon and count on a favorable comparison of yourself to others; rather, trust in God’s Word and the ultimate love he has shown by paying our sentence for us. Make today the day you accept the free gift of salvation through Christ our Lord!

To learn more, please visit: KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

This Is Real

This is Real 2  Time for some personal confession. Starting sometime in my late teen years, continuing all through my twenties, and into my early thirties, I was a professing atheist. And not a silent one by any means. I spoke my mind to anyone who would listen and, quite often, to those who didn’t want to. When I say I was a “professing” atheist, you can take that to mean I preached atheism!

I was quite well educated in all things science related. I maintained subscriptions to Science magazine and Astronomy magazine; the only classes for which I studied hard were those related to science, I watched every episode of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos documentary series. I made myself a student of science and I could recite all the latest theories and rattle off all the latest scientific discoveries and their implications.

Science became my hobby. But that would be selling things a bit short. It became the driving force behind my reason for living and the basis upon which I understood life itself and the world around me. As a child I was forced to sit in church, attend Sunday school and weekly catechism classes, and was generally excited about Jesus, but now, as I reached adulthood, that was replaced with a “real” understanding through scientific endeavor. Or so I thought.

I was certainly enthusiastic about my newfound scientific understanding. I recall in my early twenties working on an assembly line, across from some Christians. Since they were a captive audience, I made sure to extol upon them every piece of objective evidence, deductive reasoning, and experimental outcome science had to offer. There were, in Carl Sagan’s words, “billions and billions” of stars in the universe and our solar system just happened to be the lucky one upon which mere chance orchestrated life. Even now as I type that, I can see the preposterousness of it, but at the time, my arguments were either quite convincing or merely obnoxious (or probably both).

Eventually, my life began to collapse around me. Mired in self-destructive behavior fueled, at least in part, by the meaninglessness of a life that was the result of mere random chance, the castle I built for myself eventually fell, and all my scientific knowledge really couldn’t explain it or put it back together. I was left to pick up the pieces but had not the desire or drive to do so. The pain and inner turmoil I was left with was significant and ultimately pushed me to seek help.

But even then, I didn’t immediately let go of the scientific basis upon which I built my life. That took time. One particularly desperate night, I had a uniquely spiritual experience and, while I did not understand it, it was tangible enough that it started to change me. Subsequently, I was invited to church by a friend, and that “God encounter” I had was just enough to get me to accept. And thus I started down a road to a whole new understanding.

One of the first things I began to realize is that all my scientific inquiry was my attempt to make sense of my existence. And all those times I was fiercely arguing with others, trying to convince them how science explained our existence better than the Bible did, I was really hoping, unconsciously, someone would be able to convince me otherwise. I was on a truth quest…but I was not open to the truth! That is what the reality of my situation boiled down to.

Later, once I gave my life to Jesus Christ and began to understand the reality that the Bible is the very Word of God, supported by extensive and highly scientific research, I began to also understand that science supports the Biblical account of creation and life far better than it supports the proposition of spontaneous life and random chance mutations over billions of years. Those who espouse such “science” have made that their religion, just like I once did, and they are not really open to the truth.

My one-time obstinate denial of all things Biblical is really no surprise, the Bible speaks to this: “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18) I have come to realize God is so much bigger than we can even imagine. He designed, created, and now sustains the entire universe with merely a thought. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and nothing is beyond his ability. To think for, even a second, we know enough, or ever could know enough, to truly understand the complexities of life and the world we live in is arrogant beyond compare. All of our collective knowledge is merely a drop in the ocean of all there is to know!

As the Apostle Paul wrote: “The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” (1 Corinthians 3:19) And in Jeremiah 8:9: “These wise teachers will fall into the trap of their own foolishness, for they have rejected the word of the Lord. Are they so wise after all?” And Isaiah speaks of the destiny of those who see themselves as wise: “What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.” (Isaiah 5:21) But when we are humble and turn our hearts to God, we can begin to understand the world around us and the meaning of life through his revealed Word.

“For the sake of your servant, O Lord, and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known.” (1 Chronicles 17:19)

Whether you know God already and just want to learn more, or maybe your heart is just opening to the truth, here are some resources that can help you learn more about how science actually supports the Biblical account and can help you understand where you came from and where you are going:

Institute for Creation Research

Answers in Genesis

Creation Science Today

Creation.com

The Evidence Bible

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

My Place of Safety

Safety 1 I’m writing this blog from the safety of our home during the Covid-19 pandemic. The world is suddenly very different. We are on a statewide lockdown on executive order from our governor. The shelves at our local grocery store are nearly empty of many essential products, the availability of which we have heretofore taken for granted. I have even heard one report of senior citizens shoving one another trying to get the last package of toilet paper at a local store. It seems I am not the only one who can say with all sincerity that I never saw this coming.

Judging by the reactions people have had to this pandemic, there is a lot of fear in the air. To a large extent, it’s fair to say people are just following expert recommendations by wearing gloves as they shop for groceries or pump their gasoline; or when they avoid each other and keep their “social distance.” But one can also sense the fear people have. The constant barrage of information in the various media outlets certainly serves the good purpose of making us all aware of the situation and the suggested precautions we should take, but this continuous stream of coverage can also drive fear.

Is it right to have such fear? Well, I’m no expert, but to some extent I think yes, and yet to another extent, probably not. Certainly we should follow the guidelines laid out by those trained to provide such information, and we should have a healthy respect for the danger the novel coronavirus brings to ourselves and others around us. Without question, the risk that we might spread it to others, some of whom may be more at risk than ourselves, should provide plenty of motivation to alter our behaviors and habits. But do we live in fear?

For the Christian, who has placed themselves in the capable hands of the Almighty God of the universe, should we not choose faith over fear? While we should follow the recommendations made by medical professionals and obey the laws of our governments, none-the-less we also trust in a Holy God who is capable of much more than we could ever hope or imagine. As it is written in 1 John 4:18: perfect love expels all fear.

One of my favorite Bible events is when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are confronted for not following Nebuchadnezzar’s rules for worshipping the statue he made. They are facing the most powerful person on earth at the time, with the fiery furnace before them, and they do not back down. They show their complete trust in the Lord by saying, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.” (Daniel 3:17) They go on to say, in verse 18, that even if God doesn’t save them, they will not comply. Why are they able to have such faith? Go back and read all of 1 John 4. You will find the answer there in verses 16 & 17.

So in any and every situation, we should take prudent actions, but our faith is always in God who, through Christ Jesus, has made us his children. And with this in mind, I want to offer to you the words of Psalm 91, and I pray they encourage you and give you confidence as you walk through these uncertain times. Read through them slowly and pray over them. These promises are real, tangible and life giving!

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.

9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

I’ll also share these words from Paul, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

May you feel God’s presence and learn to lean on him more and more. And if you have not yet made the decision to trust in Jesus, may you do so now. There has never been a better time! Just tell him about your mistakes and ask him to forgive you. The Bible tells us that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, and in Romans 10:9-10 it says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”

And if you have decided to place your faith in Jesus today, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

To Get Where I Am Going

Spiritual Growth 6 Paul wrote his letter to the church in Colossae during his first Roman imprisonment sometime in the early AD 60s. Epaphras had shared the Gospel there and helped form the church; a church made up mostly of Gentiles but also with a number of Jewish members. Certain heretical teachings had begun to influence the Colossian church, which Epaphras reported to Paul. This became the basis for Paul to write his letter, which is essentially written as a theological antidote to those errant influences.

Colossians contains one of the Bible’s fullest expressions of the supremacy and deity of Jesus Christ.  It is a short letter, only 4 chapters in its entirety, so it is easy to read it through even when time is short. Paul addresses a number of theological topics in his effort to counter the heresy the church was facing, which included Jewish legalism and early forms of Gnosticism. And while the entirety of the letter is extremely useful and edifying to us today, what stands out to me in particular is Paul’s prayer for spiritual growth. This is found in verses 1:9 thru 1:14. Let’s take a closer look:

“So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (Colossians 1:9-1:14)

We happen to be studying Colossians in my Tuesday night “Kingdom Warriors” men’s Bible study, and as we worked through Paul’s prayer for spiritual growth, some of the specific things Paul mentions really struck me. For example, in verse 9, Paul prays for “complete knowledge”. The Greek word used for knowledge (epignōsis) refers to more than just a passing knowledge, but rather asserts a deep and thorough understanding of the will of God that is fully revealed in the Word of God. Paul adds to this “spiritual wisdom and understanding” and the combination shows Paul’s desire for the church (at Colossae and our present church) to have discernment, understanding, and knowledge rooted in the Word of God and applied in our daily lives.

Paul’s prayer continues to cover three main areas stemming from our knowledge and understanding: 1) that we would produce good fruit, 2) that we would have patience and endurance, and 3) that we would be filled with joy and gratitude. The “good fruit” Paul refers to is, of course, Kingdom-based attributes such as leading people to Christ, giving praise to God, generosity, and Godly living that bears witness to whom we serve. As a Christian, I have learned that my personal goals are more satisfying and productive when they revolve around living out my faith. My number one goal is to experience the fruit of the Spirit (i.e.: Galatians 5:22-23) – “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

I would be certain most of you have experienced trials in your lives. It is part of human existence to face adversity and an inevitability that we will encounter difficult people and circumstances. None of us get through this life unscathed. To have patience and endurance through trials is a skill I have yet to completely master, even though faith is one of my Spiritual gifts. The Greek word for patience (makrothymia) is often rendered as “longsuffering”. So the verse speaks of enduring difficult circumstances and challenging people with a certain, steadfast attitude. It is very easy for me to personalize Paul’s prayer and seek these aspects of spiritual growth in my own life simply because it is an area of personal weakness. The need to grow in patience and steadfastness in the face of adversity is certainly ever-present for me.

The third main area of Paul’s prayer involves joy. Joy is also one of the Spiritual fruits mentioned in Galatians. The Christian has every cause to be joyful and to be thankful. Paul recounts the primary reasons in his prayer: God has enabled us to share in his inheritance, we live in his light having been rescued from darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of the Son, and our freedom and forgiveness has been purchased through the blood of Jesus. Indeed, as we increase in our knowledge and understanding, we will experience joyful living in ever increasing measures. And who does not want that?

If you have not yet made the decision to pursue relationship with the Creator of the universe, why not make today the day so you can experience joyful living to its fullest? God desires that all will be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and that includes you! Romans 10:9-11 says: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’” Start your journey with Jesus today!

If you’d like more information on a relationship with Jesus, here are two resources that can help:

Know God.org

The Roman Road

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.