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.

Do I Really Need A Parachute?

Parachute 1  Imagine the scene. You’re on a commercial airliner flying to the destination of your dream vacation. You’ve saved your money for several years to pay for this trip and your excitement level couldn’t be higher. You’re no stranger to flying, but this trip is definitely special. The flight attendant takes you through the usual flight safety warnings and before you know it the plane is up in the air. Only ten hours of flight time and you’ll be there!

Then the captain makes an announcement that catches you by surprise: “Ladies and gentlemen, the flight attendants will be coming through the cabin shortly with a parachute for each of you. Please take the parachute and strap it on your back.” Now if the announcement ends there, you will probably be wondering why they are handing out parachutes. You’ve flown before and this has never happened so you’re probably wondering all kinds of things; maybe even looking out the window to see if there is smoke or fire or anything out of the ordinary.

But what if the captain’s announcement continued this way, “Folks, the parachutes will make your flight more enjoyable, please strap the parachute on, sit back and enjoy your flight.” Now the flight attendant hands you this thing about the size of a small backpack, you strap it on and sit back in your seat. Except you can’t get comfortable. The parachute makes it impossible to sit normally and soon your back is sore and you start to become angry at the airline. What in the world is going on? After not too much time, you take the parachute off and make it known you will not wear this thing.

The parachute most certainly did not make your flight more enjoyable and you now have  backache causing you to feel contempt for the airline, the captain, and the parachute. You will have nothing to do with any of them after this flight. They are already ruining your dream vacation.

But what if the captain’s announcement went this way instead, “Folks, the flight attendant will soon hand each of you a parachute. Please calmly strap your chute on before helping those around you. The plane has developed a serious malfunction and will soon crash to the earth, but you will be guided to a door where your parachute will help you land safely on the ground.” With this additional information, won’t you gladly strap on your parachute and endure whatever discomfort it might bring for the assurance of safety that comes with it? I should think so!

So you see it is only when you have the complete picture of the situation that wearing the parachute makes any sense at all. Likewise, it is the same with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I were to come to you and say, “Friend, you need to accept Christ,” you would likely wonder to yourself why in the world would you need to do that. My statement simply wouldn’t make sense. And if I said to you, “If you accept Christ it will make your life better,” you might very well give it a try, but eventually something would happen to make you question if your life was truly better, and you might end up turning away from Christ because the promise I gave you was not fulfilled. It is only when we have the complete picture that the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes sense.

So to fully understand the Gospel (which means “good news”) you need to first understand your need for it. Just as understanding that the plane is about to crash made the need for a parachute understandable, knowing that we are sinners helps us understand our need for Jesus. The Bible says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23) and the reality is, deep down inside, we all know we have made mistakes; we all have done things that have hurt others, we are all guilty. In fact, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we have likely felt the weight of that guilt much more often than we care to admit to others. To deny this is to be disingenuous just as the Apostle John wrote, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” (1 John 1:8)

Perhaps the bigger problem for most of us is that we tend to compare ourselves to others and then, despite our self-knowledge and the guilt we feel, we conclude we’re “not that bad” especially compared to (insert name of notorious sinner). And isn’t that natural? In fact, not only is it human nature, it is the very ploy of the devil to make us think we don’t need God, for Satan is the father of lies just as Jesus says in John 8:44: “He (Satan) has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” And the Apostle Peter warns us, “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)

So don’t believe the devil. Believe the Bible instead! And the Bible says, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” (Romans 3:10-12)  I honestly think the reality is that I don’t need to convince you of your guilt. I believe we all instinctively know the truth about ourselves deep down inside. And, therefore, being knowledgeable of our sin, what we really need to comprehend is that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God said about Himself in Exodus 34:6-7: “I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.”

God does not let the guilty go unpunished. Not the guilt of the worst person you can think of, not my guilt, and not yours. The guilty receive punishment, and that punishment is death. But God, in his infinite love and mercy, made a way for us to escape that punishment and to receive eternal life. And that way is Jesus because Jesus paid the penalty for us. So the Gospel is this: “God so 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) And just as the impending plane crash is why you need the parachute, sin is why you need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Availing yourself of the Gospel is almost as easy as strapping on the parachute; just talk to God. Admit to him you have sinned and you need his mercy. Accept the free gift of grace he offers through Jesus Christ; for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And now you know the full story! God bless.

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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.