Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Peace and war...

God loves peace. War is ugly - full of death and destruction and things that are not of God. God says to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Then there's this phrase that people use - a "man of peace."  Many people think that Christians ought to be those men and women of peace.

I'm not going to say they're wrong. Jesus Himself said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God."  How much more plain can you get?

However... there are other verses that cannot be ignored, for they confirm a dual reality. The truth is this:

We are born into a war zone.

I'm talking spiritual warfare here. 1 Peter 5:8 says that the devil roams around, seeking who he may devour. We're in a spiritual Colosseum and the lion was let loose years ago.

We only have three options:

A) Learn to stand and fight with other Christians (for there is no standing alone that lasts for long)
B) Get devoured, or
C) Huddle in the center of Christians who are fighting, hope that they'll protect you, and cross your fingers that you won't somehow get pulled outside the circle where you'll end up enjoying option B. (Except you won't be enjoying your huddling. Just ask that world full of people with no peace and joy who wonder if life's worth living.)

There is no "I'll find a safe place."

There is no "don't tick the devil off and he'll leave me alone."

Denying his existence or his goal doesn't work too long for a sickly zebra hiding in the middle of the herd, and it won't work for for us, either.

Ephesians 6 says to take up the armor of God. It also says this lion has flaming arrows... so even if you are hiding amongst other Christians who are fighting, those arrows can still reach you and wound and burn you. When that happens, those arrows frequently appear to come from the Christians that surround you, for what better trick can the lion pull to get you to leave the only thing that's protecting you?  Those who are actively fighting usually know where those arrows came from... but not those huddled down with their eyes and ears covered.

The truth is this. No matter who hurt you in "real life," you may rest assured that, in the life that is more real, the instigator and planner behind what hurt you is the same one who is out to destroy you as no human on earth ever will be. Again, see Ephesians 6:12. The devil's desire for your destruction is nothing compared to what Hilter planned for the Jews, and if he's successful, your torture will be an eternity longer.

Why am I sharing all this?

My pastor is preaching a series he calls "Spiritual Warfare - the Art of Survival." He was a marine, so many parallels are drawn between the warfare we see in the natural here on earth and the warfare that happens in the spirit.

And it struck me last Sunday how many people would listen to only one part of those messages and think, "I can't believe these Christians talk about war so much. I can't believe some of the things they're saying. Christians are supposed to be men of peace."

I think that mindset is one of the devil's tactics he uses to lull those sleepy zebras outside the part of the herd that's on the alert. Someone who thinks Christians are not supposed to have anything to do with war certainly isn't going to be much of a threat in spiritual warfare!

Those who think about peace and war only in the context of earthly battles and politics are missing most of it.  For there are things that are even more real than what we can see and touch in this tissue paper world. Everything here passes away. And many things here are not what they seem.

We are called the peacemakers... and quite often, the best way to make peace will be to quietly stand in that situation God has placed you in and offer quiet words of peace in the natural... all the while waging all-out warfare against that devious one who is using every trick in a book you've never read to create chaos and destruction both in the natural and spiritual.

But do not make the mistake of thinking that spiritual warfare is like natural warfare. That's backwards. Natural warfare is a twisted version of spiritual warfare, for what came second is instigated by and a reflection of what came first. What came second is twisted and distorted because of what is happening in the spirit realms.

Those three options I listed above -- have you found yourself in B or C so far?  Maybe your heart cries out, "No longer!"

There is only one way to move from the ranks of the victims and huddled civilians and into the ranks of the enlisted who become warriors.  Only one way.

Seek out the One who said, "I, the Lord, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." Let your heart join Job in saying, "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives!"

For He is the One who is the head of this army. He is the only One who knows all things, including everything in that book of tricks that are being used against you.

This is not a war that can be won by reading a how-to book or by trial and error. It can't even be won by studying your Bible. It is a war that is waged successfully only by those who fight from the fortress of the Most High and who are willing and able to hear and follow the smallest or the most far-out instruction from the Captain of the Lord's Hosts.

But when you come to know Him--truly know Him--you will find yourself in a place where your heart will also sing the glorious words of Psalm 91:

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
Of the pestilence that [a]stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
[b]For you have made the Lordmy refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your [c]tent.
11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
12 They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the [d]serpent you will trample down.
14 Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in [e]trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 “With [f]long life I will satisfy him
And [g]let him see My salvation.”


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