Copyright 2018 © Philip Shelley. All rights reserved.
There is a real enemy, and he will do anything to destroy what God has set up in your favor. SO, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?! As a Christian, with God's call on your life, a person of faith and a challenge for it to grow, what can your God do in and through you to defeat the violent attacks against you, your family, and the body of Christ?! Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:12, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." If you read through that verse quickly, you'll think it's talking about violent people that are attacking the Kingdom of Heaven, and it is "suffering violence". But, through the framework of the text that surround this verse, Jesus is declaring that the Kingdom is the violent one and it makes its Advancement by a Passionate entry, which opposes the status quo of society. We are the ones Advancing the Kingdom by Force. It goes beyond the softness that stuffy religious formalism brings (v.8), and exceeds the snobbery that child's play brings (vv. 16,17). I like how one commentary puts it: "It refuses to "dance to the music" of society's expectation that the religious community provide for them either entertainment ("we played wedding songs") or dead traditionalism ("we played funeral songs") (v.17)."
In Luke 16:16, Jesus declares the Advance of the Kingdom of God is the result of two things, Preaching and Pressing In. Jesus shows us the Good News of the Kingdom must be proclaimed with Spiritual Passion. We as Christians have to determine whether to respond to this truth with sensible minds and sensitive hearts. To overlook this truth will bring a laziness that limits the ministry of God's Kingdom spreading the details of Truth and Love. We "spread" this Good News by teaching, or educating and engaging in acts of Kindness. Without a doubt, we must do these things as Christians. But, if we don't have an Impassioned Pursuit of Prayer, a Confrontation with the evil forces, an Expectation of Miracles in our lives, and a Burning Heart to tell the world about Jesus, the Kingdom of God makes little advancement in the world. "Pressing In" is accomplished first in Prayer Warfare, connected with a will to surrender ones life and ones self interest, in order to gain God's Kingdom goals.
There are a few things this taught me as I studied it. 1.) I Must enter the Kingdom of God by "violent" determination, being aggressive about serving Christ. 2.) I Must recognize that the Kingdom of God requires my highest commitment. 3.) I Must understand that the Kingdom is worth more than any other pursuit. 4.) I Must be ready to forsake any personal goal that hinders me entering into it. 5.) I Must recognize that Kingdom people are not childish but childlike in their faith, trust, and purity.
The reason I am telling you all this is at times in our lives there will come an attack of the enemy, Satan. And it is through this "attack" that he will try to get you to quit, give up, become lazy and lethargic of what we are to do as Christians and diminish what Christ did on the Cross. One of those times came this weekend while I was serving at church. You can see from the picture above of the horror I felt when I returned to my van that someone had bashed in the window and taken things from it. Some of the things taken were a very nice Prom Dress my daughter had worn the night before, and her backpack with clothes, makeup, and jewelry including a very nice bracelet her Grandmother (Lola) gave her. Given the fact that this was done in church parking and some of the items were of some value, in the hours after this happened many thoughts flooded my mind. Thoughts of anger, loss, revenge, sadness. Then came thoughts of the why. Why would God allow this to happen, especially when I was serving at church.
It's just like the enemy to sabotage the good you do and try to turn it around for his evil. I think about the story of Joseph as he says to his brothers that ruthlessly treated him, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good." If I am to perceive the hand of God in this situation, it requires me to make innumerable choices to deny bitterness and to PRAY. And by doing this I have to come to terms that God's Will will be accomplished as a result of man's sinful behavior. Then, if that doesn't help me all the way, I have to preach to myself.
There’s a saying I have on repeat when situations this world throws at me tries to diminish the call on my life. "The lies inside my head can't overcome the Savior that's in my heart." As I have this on repeat, I'm Graciously reminded of the victories God has given me. I'm reminded how at the age of 18 after running from God's call on my life, He brought me back to His own, and called me back into ministry as I began to preach His Word. I'm reminded of how He led me to stop for 5 friends on the side of a busy I-35 highway to fix their tire and now one of them is my best friend for life. I'm reminded of the victories in the first ministry we were involved with in Dallas. Ministering to thousands of children and their families in the inner-city each week. Busing in over 200 teens a week as the youth pastor. I see images of walking in the project areas around Dallas knocking on doors inviting families to our sidewalk Sunday School, while passing blood stained streets from a drive by the night before.
I'm reminded of the provision God gave us through the years of ministry, and how He's provided jobs for us in the education field. How fun it was to minister through teaching and just being that kind word or smile to a student that desires true freedom from the stress of this world. I see the many mission trips we've had the opportunity to go on and see God's mighty hand move in lives of people we had the privilege of meeting and praying with. I see the little girl my wife prayed for in Nicaragua that was blind with a white film over her eyes, and a few minutes after praying the white film was gone and the Dad, excited in his amazement, told us she had never responded to him like that before. These are just a portion of the victories God has given us.
I could go on and tell you of the great opportunities He has provided. Like working at one of the largest churches in America, planning youth services and conferences for tens of thousands of people and seeing God move in mighty ways. My point to all this though, is no matter what Satan, the world, or a thief that breaks your window and steals from you does, GOD IS STILL ON HIS THRONE! And since He is still on His throne, I will put my trust and life in Him for all the days of my life. No matter what knocks me down in this life, I can get back up and tell the enemy to his nasty face, I'M STILL STANDING! If I can do this, so can you!
If you need freedom today from the lies the enemy puts in your head, remember they CAN'T overcome what Jesus did on the cross. If you need prayer today you can email us or comment below. God has provided you with a community of believers to help you get through whatever pain the enemy tries to inflict on you. Trials will come, but God will always be on His Throne! Peace!