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Category Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Honor Much, Suffer Well

I feel the need to apologize. But let me set this up.

Like many Christian leaders, I believe we are living in the last days. Like many believers, I think our country is, like my Grandpa used to say, going to hell in a handbasket. I am like many American Christians: saddened, angry and frustrated at the actions of our government and decisions by our judges and courts. Until now I have been very vocal about my feelings about these things.

This morning, however, a 26-year-old brilliant speaker and one of the Pastors at my church spoke on a passage of scripture in 1 Peter 2 (verses 11-25). His message, titled, “A Colony of Heaven in a Hostile World,” challenged us to “honor much and suffer well” as we face difficult situations in our personal lives and within our radically changing culture. He reminded us that God’s word commands us to honor the Emperor (or respect the King) and that for us, today, that means our President. Unpacking that phrase he showed us that this means to honor, respect and assist those in authority. I have to admit, I bristled a bit at that.

I confess: I think our current President is the worst we’ve ever had. I think he’s incompetent, deceitful and manipulative. I think his actions clearly show his disregard for our Constitution, citizens’ rights, the Founders’ intent, and the very fabric of our great country. I think he’s aiding and abetting our enemies and is playing fast and loose with our taxes. I could go on, and no doubt many of you agree. I don’t think it’s wrong to state opinion when based on public fact.

The Emperor was Nero when Peter wrote his letter. He was one of the worst tyrants in history. He hated Christians so much that he would impale them on stakes and set them on fire in his gardens and porticos for light in the evenings. I’m pretty sure Peter’s contemporaries were talking about this — it was most certainly fact. It was most certainly evil and wrong. Yet this is the dude Peter said to “honor, respect and assist.” Now, I am pretty up to date on news that even the mainstream media refuses to report, but I’m pretty sure President Obama hasn’t lit up any believers for lamplight on the White House lawn, yet.

nero

So here is my apology: I have spent a lot of energy sharing op eds, blogs and articles on Facebook, Twitter, and Scoop.it that were unkind to the President and other leaders. While staying away from the photos with “IDIOT” stamped across the foreheads of prominent leaders saying and doing silly things, I have “liked” posts that disrespected and dishonored the President and other leaders. I apologize. I recognize that God expects me to travel a higher road. I realize that as a follower of Christ I am to emulate Him and we never once heard Him diss the Emperor.

Pastor Travis Clark went on share that “the most Christ-like think you can do is love and honor those you completely disagree with,” and he quoted Jeremiah 29:7:

And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

The city referenced here is Babylon, where God sent the Israelites into slavery. For a very, very long time.

So, should we do less? I don’t find it difficult at all to love and honor friends with whom I disagree. But how do you love and honor those who lead poorly, treat you badly, persecute you, and take away your rights?

  • Pray
  • Find common ground
  • Point to Jesus

This does NOT mean to put your head in the sand! We are still called to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. We are to be knowledgeable. We are to “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17). DO serve the less fortunate, DO work to correct injustice, DO vote in the next elections and do it with knowledge about the candidates and the issues and wisdom about how they line up with the word of God. Do these things with honor.

“The Gospel is not just a call to heaven–it is a call to a new order of life here and now.” (Another great quote from Pastor Travis.)  “For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” (2 Corinthians 6:2). When we honor much and suffer well, God gets all the glory. Let’s make sure we glorify our one, true King by obeying his words to respect and honor our current “king.”

After all, in God’s economy things are not how we think. Remember, ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first’? Why shouldn’t we believe that if we respond as God commands He will do great things, just at the right time? I believe He will. So I will stop dissing Mr. Obama and start finding common good. I will pray for our leaders, this nation, and for God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

Amen.

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American Christians and the Government

There is no doubt that we are watching textbook tyranny unfold before us. The rights and liberties of American Christians, Americans without a voice, and now American conservatives in general, have been slowly and steadily stripped over the last two decades. Laws reflecting moral decline are in place largely because Christians and God-believing conservatives have done nothing, or at least not enough.

Perhaps some feel that a Christian’s business is about the Church and not the government. Politics are dirty business and we don’t want to go there. Some stick their head in the sand hoping it will all go away and God will wave His hand and make it all right some day. (He certainly will, but how terrible will be that wave!)

The country was founded on Christian principles by God-fearing men. Our constitution is not outdated and is meant to protect our freedom from tyranny, but there are those in power today who would like to label it antiquated and wipe it away.

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We are called to be salt and light, yet where are we in this season, in these debates? We are told to be gentle as doves yet wise as serpents. Are we obeying? Do we know what is at stake? It seems clear to me that satan is behind the sinister goings on in our government and administrative pawns are playing in his hands. The battle is not with men and women, but with spiritual principalities and powers of darkness. We must pray. Pray for revival. Only a heart-change in the leaders of this country and its citizens will right this listing ship.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.  ~1 Timothy 2:1-6

But prayer is key but it is not the only thing we should do. We must not be silent. Our examples in God’s word show Jesus and His disciples speaking loudly and clearly to religious leaders and government officials. We speak by voting, we speak by writing and calling our elected representatives, we speak by sharing truth with others. We speak by refusing to go along with laws or mandates that are contrary to God’s word. We speak by defending the defenseless. We speak by our actions: Caring for the sick, poor, homeless, imprisoned as if each of them were Christ Himself.

This world is not our home. Let’s not be comfortable with it. May we not be found sleeping on the job!

 

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O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

“Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep…”

Israel is the name God gave to Jacob: “And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you’.” — Genesis 35

For those who are ready for some Christmas music (and for those who are not, but have a passion for Israel) may I offer this beautiful arrangement of “O Come Emmanuel”?

This is my sister…

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

(Note: If the above link does not play well, please visit www.lisareiff.com, click on Music, then O Come Emmanuel.)

And while you are listening to her beautiful voice, think of Israel, and think of her Savior:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

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Equal Opportunity Destroyer

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

~ 1 Peter 5:8-9

Last week I read 20 Ways Satan May Seek to Destroy You This Week. A short but sobering post to be sure. I was prompted to read this after reading in a book that we should not to argue with the enemy or address him directly, but rather say “The LORD rebuke you.” More importantly, it is critical that every Christian recognize she or he is a target, every day–putting on the whole armor of God is not an option in this warfare.

This week I read a post by Tim Challies on Learning to Stand in this battle. This is an excellent piece on how exactly we practically “apply” this armor. The enemy not only wants to destroy individual believers but the work we do for God’s Kingdom, those that would come to know Christ because of us, the Christian vestiges of this country, and the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.

I strongly recommend reading both posts. Taken together, these should spur any believer to dig in deeper and be diligent to live out Ephesians 6, for ourselves and for the Gospel.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in God's Word, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Doors, Part One

I learned two new things I often incorrectly assume about ‘doors’ this week. First, that we Christians (especially in the West) assume God opens and closes them and we can rest secure in ordering our steps according to these “open doors,” but that’s not necessarily true. Second, that we often ascribe the verse about “God standing at the door of our heart, knocking” to the door of the heart of the unbeliever; Jesus waiting to be let in. That also, is not necessarily true.

This post will discuss the first “ah ha”: An open door does not mean God opened it.

I am reading “Tempted and Tried” by Russell Moore. In a chapter called “Slaughterhouse Drive” (about how cows are mercifully and calmly lead to their unexpected and painless death) there is this disturbing news:

You are being watched. The demonic powers have had millenia to observe human nature. . . . The spiritual powers out there are expert cosmic farmer-ranchers and are customizing a temptation plan that fits with the way your desires, particularly, work. They notice what turns your head, what quickens your pulse. Like the Roman guard feeling around, with a spike in one hand, on the Lord Jesus’ arm, seeking his vein under the skin, the demonic beings are marking out your weak points, sizing you up to that they might crucify you. They’ll find what you want and give it to you. . . Sometimes Christians make decisions based on opportunities come open. In our spiritual lingo we often talk about “open doors” and “closed doors” and “seeing where God is at work” in circumstances, as evidence of God’s leading us to do something or other. There’s a sense in which that’s wisdom, observing the situation around us in order to make a decision. But sometimes people will assume the “open doors” in their lives are all signals to go forward. How could it not be right when everything seems to be fitting together perfectly? But what if something wicked is just ahead of you, opening those doors for you, right down to the chambers of hell?

In looking back on my life I can see how this is so true. I grew up in a church where people were often heard to say “where God closes a door, He opens a window.” And I grew up believing circumstances such as opportunities landing in my lap, or plans abruptly interrupted were “signs” that I should walk this way or that. Looking back I see many “open doors” I walked through blindly…and right into a snare or deep, dark pit. Like the open door in the back of the wardrobe that is so difficult to be found again from the side of Narnia, the pit is hard to crawl out of…

This is not a word of gloom and doom, but hearkening to the wisdom of the author of the book cited above, to Proverbs, and to Christ Himself who clearly tells us that He is “sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

I must not forget I am not excused from the wrestling mat. If I am to follow Christ I must be a discerning disciple of His word and how to practically apply it (“study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”), I must put on the whole armor required for spiritual warfare, I am not to dismiss or minimize the determination of the enemy to keep me ineffective for the Kingdom (at the minimum) and destroy me (at the heart of the liar’s plan).

In this country we do so much in solitude and too little in community. Wrestling with cosmic powers of evil and engaging in spiritual warfare are not activities I wish to do alone. Pray for each other, confess to one another, encourage one another, bear one another’s burdens, speak the truth to one another in love: “We are better together,” especially in battle.

 

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