In Me You May Have Peace

In Me You May Have Peace

On the night of the last supper, just before Jesus’s arrest, his mock trial, his beatings and eventual crucifixion, He shared with his disciples an encouragement found in John 16:33.

 He said to them, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

 Basically, Jesus was letting them know that life comes with some tribulation, but they don’t need to walk through them alone. He would be with them, and that in him they could enjoy peace because they know the One called peace. He was also letting them know that despite what they would face, and despite the outcome, they would overcome and be victorious. Again, this would be because of Him and not of themselves.

 It’s the exact same for us today. Life isn’t always easy. Things happen that can rock our worlds and leave us reeling. But we have those same words echoing through the ages to us right now in whatever we are facing. Jesus says to you and me, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

 That’s how much Jesus loved his disciples and us! He loved them so much that even before the situation arose that would threaten everything they knew; he warned them and gave them peace and hope to walk through it all. He gives us that same peace and hope.

 No matter what we are going through right now, Jesus releases hope and peace to us if we want it. He lets us know that He is right there during it all and won’t leave us. He doesn’t necessarily say, “I will get you out of this”, but he does say “I will walk you through it and release my hope and peace to you.” It’s up to us to find that hope and peace and hold onto it during our trial, trouble or tribulation.

 And then Jesus continues to say, "be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” That word overcome means “to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat.” For me that all spells VICTORY! Because we know Jesus, no matter what happens, we have the victory. We have the victory over sickness, disease, sin and even death.

 As human beings, we want to work it all out and somehow understand it all. We ask the why, how, what, when and if questions all the time. But in everything we face, God is calling us to trust Him. Do you remember that wonderful portion of scripture in Proverbs 3: 5-6?

 It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Another version says, “and he will make your paths straight.”

 God is calling you and I to trust Him even in our trials, troubles, tests and tribulations. For he is God. He alone knows that the plans He has for us are good; and as painful as they are, they are indeed working for our good even when they do not look good nor feel good. So, keep trusting him and he will direct you right where he wants you.

 As believers, we can go boldly to that throne of grace and mercy and find the help we need. The truth is that our lives on earth and our suffering on earth are both temporary. That’s what Paul is reminding us of in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “For while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

 The world offers temporary peace that doesn’t last. True peace can only be found in the person called Jesus. No matter what you are facing, Jesus offers you "PEACE" in your storm. Will you take Him at His Word? Will you take hold of His hope and peace, press into him and watch his wonderful purposes unfold for you?

 

 

 

Run your race keeping your eyes on Jesus

Run your race keeping your eyes on Jesus

Have you ever run a race?  You don’t just wake up one day and say, “I think I will run a race today.” If you did, you would quickly find out that you don’t have what it takes to finish, never mind win the race. There needs to be months of mental preparation and physical training that happens prior to a race being run.

First you need to decide that you want to run. Next you need to get your fitness levels up, and you do this by building up the time you spend on the road. Finally, you need to adjust your diet accordingly. Even before you’ve started the race you’ve readied your mind; you’ve studied the route and now finally race day has arrived and you are lined up at the start ready to begin. The atmosphere is electric. All around you are the crowds that have come to watch and cheer you on. Suddenly it’s time – the race is about to begin. The starter moves to the front of the large crowd, takes his position and fires the starter’s pistol. You are off with the crowd of runners, jostling for position, attempting to move up in your race position. Your eyes are firmly fixed on the prize you hope to win by finishing your race.

As Christians, we have a race to run. A route has been marked out for us by God. It’s not something that we set or decide. This is all determined by the Father who inspires us to run, to never quit, and to finish our race. And all of Heaven is cheering you on with eager anticipation.

This reminds me of that wonderful Scripture in Hebrews 12:1-3.  The Message Bible puts it like this:

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

We have decided to follow Jesus and the starter’s gun has been fired. We are now off running our race. But how do we run and finish our race? Firstly, we need to realise that this a marathon and not a sprint. A marathon is a strenuous test of fitness and endurance. The race before us requires faith, stamina, consistency, commitment and discipline in order to finish. We cannot afford to quit ( 1 Cor 9:25-26; Phil 3:12-14; 1 Tim 6:12). . Once we see this as a lifelong marathon, we must commit ourselves to run to the very end. A daily discipline of prayer, worship, reading God’s Word and cleansing our lives of sin will help. We need a Christlike attitude, where even in the midst of trials, we can overcome and not give up ( 1 Pet 2:21; 4:1; 1 John 2:6).

For us to stay the course and finish our race, we need to pace ourselves. Every good runner will tell you to start slow and stay even. If you start too fast, you run the risk of running out of energy and not finishing strong, if at all. The Bible calls this endurance (James 1:2-3; 1 Cor 10:13-14; Col 1:11). Endurance is the capacity to last and to withstand. As we run our race, we will be faced with many trials, tests and tribulations along our route that can distract us from the prize and even cause us to give up. Instead, we need to use these challenges to teach and train us to overcome and be victorious.

The key to us enduring is keeping our eyes on Jesus. After all, according to the scripture above, Jesus began and finished the race that we are on. So, we look to Him, ‘the author and perfecter of our faith’. He has already run and successfully finished this race. He is at the finish line cheering us on and waiting for us to finish. According to Hebrews, for us to finish strong, we need to ‘study how he did it.’

How did Jesus do it? How did He run his race with such endurance? How did He finish so strong? Jesus’s race was tough. He shed blood, sweat and tears. His race was marked with suffering and with pain. But He never considered giving up. Why? Because He understood that His Father didn’t send Him to earth to just start His race, but to finish it and to win the prize. Jesus kept his eyes on the prize. He never took His eyes off His Father or the Plan. He kept looking at the joy set before Him. He endured the shame and pain because He knew that He would one day be seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for each one of us that we might not give up but endure to the end and receive the crown of life.  

Jesus won the race. Jesus overcame sin, sickness and death. He is our Champion who initiates and perfects our faith. So, we look to Him as we run our race of faith knowing that the one who overcame and won, will also help us overcome and finish our race.  And when we finish, we will run into His arms in triumphant victory, saying “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4

'Selah' - An invitation to pause in His Presence

 'Selah' - An invitation to pause  in His Presence

Many times, in the Book of Psalms we read the word “Selah”. 

I recently read an article saying that this word appears over seventy times in Psalms. It stated that some Bible versions have this word in it, and some don’t. I’m not sure who decides when a word is important and when it’s not? But I think that if a word appears that many times in scripture, then surely its important? 

One passage of Scripture where ‘Selah’ is mentioned three times is in Psalm 3:1-8. Let’s read what David wrote in the Amplified version.

O LORD, how my enemies have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of me, “There is no help [no salvation] for him in God.” Selah. 

But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory [and my honor], and the One who lifts my head. With my voice I was crying to the LORD, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. 

I lay down and slept [safely]; I awakened, for the LORD sustains me. I will not be intimidated or afraid of the ten thousand who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the LORD; May Your blessing be upon Your people. Selah.

As I read this portion of scripture, I became aware that after the word ‘Selah’ was mentioned a shift happened in David. It was like a change of focus and direction came to David. Now that’s got to be important! 

David came into a time of prayer and worship burdened with the pain of what he was facing, but by the end of the time he was different. He went into the presence of His Heavenly Father in one condition but came out of it in a very different condition. What happened in that time? 

In my limited understanding, the word ‘Selah’ can be simply defined as to “pause in His presence”. Think about that. David poured out His heart to God in agony and then he paused in His presence. In that pause he waited for God to meet with him, to speak to him, to guide him. 

It would seem then that this little word ‘Selah’ is extremely important. No matter what we are facing in life; the difficulties, the traumas, the pain, the hardships etc, we need to pause in the presence of the Lord and pour our hearts out to Him. In that pause we need to allow God to speak to us, to adjust our focus, and get our eyes back onto who He is and what He is able to do. It’s in the pause moments that we need to deal with our hearts, attitudes and mindsets so that nothing gets in the way of our relationship with Him. 

Initially David is so overwhelmed by the betrayal of his son and how many were changing allegiance to Absalom. He appears to be gripped by great fear and anxiety as he sees who is against him. Hurt threatens to overwhelm he and he appears to only see who is against him and not who is for him. But then he pauses in God’s presence and God changes his focus and perspective. God gets David to take his eyes off himself and what he is facing and gets him looking to God again. He is reminded again of the God he serves. He is reminded that not everyone has left him. His God has not abandoned him. His God is with him and will fight for him. David is reminded, “if God is for Him then who can be against him.” David finds comfort, encouragement and strength in the presence of his loving Father. He pauses again and a great peace and rest comes upon him even though his circumstances haven’t changed. 

He presses into God again, but this time it’s different. This time the pause is a time of worship and adoration of His Father in whom he can trust. He now rests in peace and holds onto the truth that no matter what happens, his God is strong, his God is mighty, His God is able. He finds strength in the Lord and another change occurs. This brings a change in his countenance and all fear and anxiety begins to fade. He remembers that what God has purposed cannot be thwarted. What God has said will come to pass. He has been reminded that his salvation comes from God, and God alone. 

And then that final ‘Selah’ comes. Why do you think that is?  I think that one is for you and me! We have been given a pattern to follow through David’s great example. For as we have read the Scripture, we are reminded of God’s great love for us. We are reminded that God fights for us and that God will bring us through any number of dark nights, because He promises to never leave or forsake us. We are reminded that what God has said will happen because He is not a man that He should lie. We are reminded that our deliverance comes from the Lord. 

And so, we can pause and sing our hallelujahs to our Father in Heaven; and as we do, we’ll find a change begins to come upon us. As we place our focus on God, everything else goes out of focus as His glory is once again revealed to us.

So, let’s take time to pause in His presence. Let that be our first response to everything we face.

Keeping Hope Alive

Keeping Hope Alive

We live in a world where our hope is continually under attack and constantly being eroded. From a natural point of view, just read the newspaper or turn on the news and you hear stories that can eat away at your hope. From a spiritual point of view, we have an enemy who is intent on destroying hope in our lives. For that reason, we need to take care of our hope. We need to nourish it and strengthen it. Hope is never automatic; it doesn’t just happen. Hope is something we must maintain and grow. Hope is like a muscle; without the effort of exercising our trust, belief and faith in God, it will atrophy (waste away). Hope needs to be exercised if it is to remain strong.

 So, what is hope? Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen. It’s a feeling of trust.”

 The Christian’s hope, however, isn’t just a wish, desire or a feeling; it’s a settled confidence in God and in His promises. The Christian hope is a continuing reliance, trust and faith-filled expectation in a loving God. Psalm 25:3,5,21 says, “No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame... Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are my God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long... May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.”

 Hope is not a magic word that ensures my every wish and desire is met and happens exactly how and when I would like. Hope means that no matter what happens, whether I receive the things I want or not, I will trust in God to always do what is right and best for me. Even when life ends my hope doesn’t end. Why? Because I know that God’s promises will be fulfilled. Our hope is in the promise of resurrection, forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Jesus Christ. That is my ultimate hope; it’s every Christian’s ultimate hope and it is the only hope that truly matters.

 So, what is the ultimate enemy of our hope? Is it discouragement, suffering, pain, weariness, mental, physical or spiritual exhaustion? These things would certainly contribute to our loss of hope, but the greatest enemy to us sustaining and growing hope is time, or to be more accurate, passing time. It’s that period of waiting. That period between the process of God and the promise of God. It’s that period where we believe we have heard Gods promise, but then we wait, and we wait, and we wait - minutes, hours, days, months and even years for those promises to come to pass, and yet nothing happens (or so it seems). It’s in the corridor of our waiting that Proverbs 13:12 speaks into: “hope deferred makes our heart sick”.

 And that’s true isn’t it? If you are like me, you start off waiting patiently for the promises and you do all the so-called right things and time passes by with apparently nothing changing. Or maybe the situation gets worse and your hope is slowly chipped away at until eventually you have none and your heart becomes so very sick. You just cannot muster up the faith to believe for it anymore, and even worse, you start to mistrust God and doubt that He said anything like you thought. This is a dangerous place to be because it always nearly ends up in us moving into flesh and doing our own thing to get things happening. It almost always ends up in mistakes that cost us dearly. It robs us of our peace, rest and joy. That’s why it’s essential to record every prophetic promise, word, picture or scripture God has encouraged you with, directly or through other people. You can’t trust your memory when hope is under attack.

 What should we do when waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled so that we don’t lose our hope?

 1) Look only to God. No one and else. Nothing else. According to Romans 15:13, he is the inspiration and source of all our hope: “Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!  In this beautiful scripture, we see hope, joy and peace as a package. They are tied together by the cord of trust in God. Hope, joy and peace are the result of our total trust and reliance in God who works it all for our absolute good.

 2) Accept Gods timing as perfect, and understand the season you are in. You always plant a seed in the right season and a period of time passes and then you get a harvest; never the other way around. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that “there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”

 3) Rely on and trust God even if it seems nothing is happening. We are called to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5: 7). How do you walk by faith? You do it through obedience to whatever God has said. You keep doing what He said until He clearly says something else. You walk by faith by clinging to the dreams God has placed inside you. Don’t let them die. Walk with determination and courage on the path God reveals to you, even when it looks like nothing is happening and it doesn’t make sense. Don’t listen to the negative, demoralizing lies of the enemy. And believe me those lies will come.

 4) Keep praying. Use the prophecies and the encouragements God has given you to warfare with. Maybe it’s time to practice fasting as a regular discipline, because it reveals just how desperate you are for God’s breakthrough. That’s what Paul told Timothy in 1 Tim 1:18 - “Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well”

 5) Keep worshipping God. Worship breaks through enemy activity around you. It keeps you in hope, joy and peace despite the delays and setbacks. Worship feeds your faith. So, raise a hallelujah in the presence of your enemy. It’s a great weapon to use.

 6) Wait in faith and with patience. Which means feed your faith with the word of God. Declare His promises daily. This is the fuel of your faith.  Listen to what God is saying through it, and only do what He says. Don’t rush ahead.

 And then suddenly God breaks in, and breaks out, and breaks through, and you live in the richness and fullness of His promises. And the waiting was so very worth it.                                                                            Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now so that you will continue to do God’s Will. Then you will receive all that He has promised”

 

Same Church... Same Heart...Same Passion... New Name

Same Church... Same Heart...Same Passion... New Name

After 12 years, Nelson Bays Church has changed its name to Christ First Church. One of the things we discover in Scripture, is that whenever God changed a person’s name it was to establish a new identity for them, and it was a declaration of intent – what God intended for them to be and become. The same is true for this local church.

We want to be identified as those who truly put Christ first in every way, but we also know it’s a name we will (and need to) grow into.

For us though it’s all about Jesus. We want to make much of Jesus. Our mandate as a church is to know Christ and to make Him known; where knowing Christ is our greatest joy, following Christ our greatest pursuit, and glorifying Christ our greatest goal.

We believe the name ‘Christ First’ better reflects who we are as a church, what’s important to us, where we’re going and what we’re wanting to achieve and live in.

This is an exciting time for Christ First and in many ways signifies a new season for us as a church; one of increased opportunity, effectiveness and fruitfulness.

As we go into our preferable future, let’s all keep Christ in the forefront of all we do; ensuring we seek Him first (Matt 6:33) as we strive to be a church that is Christ-centred in every way.

And Jesus said when you pray

And Jesus said when you pray

Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” He is also quoted as saying, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” He understood how essential and important prayer was to his wellbeing and maturity.

Prayer is important. Prayer is a priority. Prayer is central to our relationship with the God-Head. Prayer is how we communicate with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we read the Bible, that’s often how we will hear Him speaking to us. Through prayer, we get to talk with God whenever we want to, and share our hearts, thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams. 

Jesus prayed often. He would withdraw and go to a quiet place to connect with His Father. He understood how necessary and important it was. The Bible tells us that Jesus prayed regularly – early in the morning, while it was still dark, when faced with a trial or temptation, and while He went about his daily life (Luke 5:16; Matt 26:39,42; Mark 1:35; John 17:19; Luke 23:34). Jesus is our perfect example.

In Luke 11:2-4 Jesus set out a pattern for prayer. I am not talking about regurgitation, parroting this prayer religiously every day; but rather this was given to show us how to pray and connect with our Heavenly Father.

 “And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

As I re-read this scripture, I was reminder again that I have a Father in Heaven that I can turn to anytime, who knows all things, sees all things and is able to work all things for my absolute good. It reminded me that I have a Father who is majestic, all mighty, all powerful and completely ‘in control’. He sits in Heaven and He watches everything; nothing takes Him by surprise. He is different from humanity. He isn’t limited by anything. He is eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, and He is fully invested in me.  

It also reminded me that my life needs to be centred on Him. That means He needs to be my focus, my prize, my treasure; the one I’m captivated with and by. If He is, then no matter what happens or doesn’t happen, I am not tossed about by my emotions, fears or feelings.

I was struck again by how much He loves me; that He didn’t leave me alone but sent the precious life-giving Holy Spirit who convicts me, cleanses me, changes me, comforts me, counsels me and challenges me to be more like Jesus.

When I read ‘Your Kingdom come’ (I know this speaks of the rule and reign of God), I am profoundly aware that I am a spirit with a body and not a body with a spirit. What do I mean? I am born again by the Spirit and I realised that I have the Spirit of God residing in me and that means I have the full capacity and capability of His power at work in me and through me. That means wherever I am, I carry Him with me and whatever the needs are in any given place, I can pray; and His power is released, and His Kingdom can break in – break in to marriages, finances, health, relationships – and it can be changed in an instant! I don’t have to wait for Heaven, but I can right now live in the presence and power of my Heavenly Father and see things changed for the good. I am not limited by my humanity because its His power at work in and through me.

My source for everything is Him. Every need is met in Him and Him alone. Nothing else can satisfy. Nothing else can ever supply what I need – emotionally, mentally, materially, physically, spiritually – only Him. He is my provision; my protection and He is a Promise Keeper. What security that brings!

That’s why I need to pray. Prayer is the God-provision of my every need and it’s the God solution for every single issue I face. When I pray “Father” I am declaring He has this because He loves me. When I pray for His kingdom to break into my situation, I am praying for His Will and Way to breakthrough. When I pray for His provision, protection and promises to come about, I am remembering and declaring that He is the only one able to do anything and He is the source of everything. When I pray for forgiveness for myself and release it to others, I am reminded of His faithfulness in forgiving me. And when I pray deliver me, I am reminding myself that this is my promise keeping Father and I can confidently wait for His deliverance and provision because He will always hear me and provide a way out. And that’s why prayer is so very important. Prayer changes things but mostly it changes me.

Weapons of our warfare

Weapons of our warfare

As much as God has given us a mission and a mandate while on planet earth; we have an enemy intent on robbing, killing and destroying God’s great plan and purpose. As a result of following our Commander in Chief, Jesus, and living disciplined and obedient lives; we are a threat to the enemy and his purposes. Fortunately, we haven’t been left to fend for ourselves. The Lord isn’t sitting in heaven, holding His head in His hands, hoping somehow that His church will advance and overcome the enemy. The Lord has equipped us with some amazing armour and weaponry.

Ephesians 6:14-18 says, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

This armour and weaponry is only available to people who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. You must be spiritually renewed to make use of spiritual weapons. The apostle Paul was in prison at the time of writing this, surrounded by Roman soldiers dressed in their armour and weapons. God spoke to him through that every day experience and gave him a wonderful download that has helped Christians ever since. The truth is, we are at war! You and I have an enemy, but we have been equipped to face that enemy. We don’t need to ever fear him.

Paul starts with an instruction to “stand firm”. A simple definition of standing firm would be “to hold out, to resist, to withstand.” The call for us as believers is to hold our ground, to maintain a winning position, to be steadfast and upright as we live our lives on planet earth. It means we must never doubt we have an active enemy who is always looking for someone to destroy. Which means then that we must take our positions and be prepared for his attacks. Paul then explains what Heavenly weapons we have in our possession to help us do just that. For me the first three make up the uniform or clothing of every Christian, and the last four are our weapons to fight with.

·         With the belt of truth buckled around your waist. Truth is essential for every Christian. It’s only truth that can set free. We are to wear truth, be the truth, live the truth, speak the truth and believe the truth as Christians. Truth is essential in standing against the enemy. We can’t have any grey areas in our lives or areas of compromise. We need to believe the Word of God is truth and we need to live in that truth all the time. It’s truth that needs to undergird every other part of our armour and weapons.

·         The breastplate of righteousness in place. A breastplate protects all the vital organs of a body that sustain life. This isn’t our own righteousness, which God equates to filthy rags, but the righteousness which comes from God. We stand in His righteousness and not our own. It’s a righteousness received by faith. It doesn’t depend on how you feel or even what you’ve done or haven’t done. It’s a righteousness (a right standing) brought about by the selfless act of Jesus. This breastplate of God’s righteousness is our best defence against a lying evil enemy.

·         Your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Isaiah speaks about the beauty of a Christian’s feet and about their feet being ready to go and do what the Commander asks of them. In chapter 52 verse 7 we read, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Part of our armour and weaponry is to be equipped and ready with the Gospel, so that we can share the gospel wherever we are and wherever we go. We inflict the greatest damage on the kingdom of darkness when we are ready, available and prepared to share the gospel.

·         Take up the shield of faith. This is our first weapon as a Christian. Faith is our shield against the lies of the enemy. Every time we are discouraged, depressed, disheartened or tempted to believe his lies, we are to raise up our shield of faith. What do you do with the shield? We use it to deflect the enemy’s attacks. Our faith shield will “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”. The enemy will persistently and continually come with his lies, condemning thoughts, guilty feelings, fears and harassment, but we are to continually respond with faith and counteract his accusations and deception.

·         Take the helmet of salvation. A helmet protects the head of a soldier. In days of old during a battle, it was used to identify which regiment a soldier was from. The helmet of salvation identifies us as a son or daughter of God. When we become saved, we receive the helmet of salvation that identifies us as a child of God; but it also tells others who we are. Salvation answers the who we are and whose we are question. The helmet of salvation protects our minds from enemy attack. If you’ve accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you have been saved. The enemy will try and rob you of that assurance by discouraging and condemning you but keep that helmet on so that his lies won’t penetrate your mind.

·         The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Very simply put, this is saying that the Spirit of God provides you with a sword and that sword is the Word of God; powerful and effective, dividing bone and marrow. It gets right into us and cuts away all doubt, fear, anxiety and hopelessness. That means you need to meditate on Scripture, hide Scripture inside of you, and then use Scripture to counteract the enemy’s attacks.

·         And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Prayer is a powerful and effective weapon against the enemy. Prayer calls on the hosts of Heaven to back you in overcoming the enemy. Learn to pray! Pray in your native language and prayer in the Spirit. Sometimes our English language is limited, but as we pray in tongues power is released, and breakthrough comes.

Paul then closes this section with the following words: “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” When you and I pray for others we can become a powerful weapon in the Father’s hand to help others win their battles. You and I have a responsibility to look out for the soldiers around us; to watch their backs, to protect them in prayer, and together to neutralise the enemy. Let’s put on our uniforms and take up our positions. Let’s pick up our weapons and use them to resist and overcome the works of the enemy.

En Garde Church! En Garde!

En Garde Church! En Garde!

We are fast approaching the end of 2018 which means we will soon be entering the holiday season. They call it the silly season, as often it’s a time where we lose the ‘God-plot' for our lives. It’s a time where we often over spend and over eat. It’s a time where we can let our disciplines slide (spiritual and natural), and a time where we let our guards down. Which means it’s a strategic time for the enemy to launch his attack on God’s children. Which is why we need to remain on guard!

In days of old, “en garde “(French for on guard), was used to warn a fencer to assume the position and prepare for an eventual attack. It was a warning to take their position and be ready to ward off any potential attacks. It was a call to be alert and ready to respond to their advance.

It’s a call that I hear the Father saying to His Church right now, “En Garde Church and hold your position”. The Father is encouraging us to get into position, prepare for attack, stay in position, hold our position and take ground from our enemy who seeks to rob, kill and destroy. Our enemy is very real, and he never goes on holiday or gives us a time out. He isn’t loving, kind, merciful or considerate. He doesn’t care if we are tired, weary and in desperate need of a holiday. He is watching and waiting for us to be off guard, so he can launch his attack against us.

Scripture gives us a necessary strategy to thwart the enemy’s attacks: Ephesians 6:10-13 tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might”. We are to “put on the whole armour of God so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil.” These components for warfare against our enemy are essential for every believer if we are to stand and win.

Firstly, Paul is telling us to “be strong in the Lord.” My dad was a career soldier from the age of sixteen years old. He arrived at training camp a young man without skill and left a fully trained soldier. Before he was sent to war, and before he could use the weaponry that was available to him as a fighting soldier, he had to first go through basic training. In basic training he was taught first and foremost obedience to his commander’s instructions. He was then taken through a fitness course that made him mentally and physically strong as a person. All this was in preparation to be a fully trained soldier. They didn’t just give him a gun and send him out; they trained him first and equipped him with everything he would need for war.

As Christians we aren’t called to be strong in ourselves, but rather to “be strong in the Lord.” You were never meant to fight the enemy alone. Rather we are to get to know our commander in chief – Jesus – intimately; for us to get to know His voice so we can hear His instructions. We are called to press in to Him, press on in Him and press through with Him. We go to war against our enemy strengthened and equipped by the Lord. It’s His strength that so powerfully works in us. Which means God is constantly discipling us so that we become more like Jesus. He is also our source of power, strength and courage. Being strong in the Lord works in tandem with “in the strength of His might.” Jesus himself is our source of power, courage and strength. It is Jesus, who empowers us to stand, fight and to win. So, plug into Him! Stay plugged into Him!

The scripture continues in verse 11 with an instruction to “put on the whole armour of God” And this truth is reinforced in verse 13 where it says, “Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Not only are we as Christians trained for war but we are equipped with the necessary armoury. It’s this armour that enables us to withstand attacks and equips us in spiritual warfare. And when an attack comes, its for us to know that we have the full backing of Heaven behind us and spiritual weapons available to us; and that no attack, no scheme of the enemy will prosper or succeed. But we need to stand in the Lord’s strength and power. I receive the Lord’s strength, might and power as I train with Him.

Verse 12 follows with, “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” Which gives us a very clear picture of a very real enemy. We get an understanding that every Christian will face enemy attack at different times in their lives. We aren’t to fear those times, nor to fear the devil. He is a fallen angel (Luke 10:18) with limited power (Luke 10:19). The devil is destined for “the lake of sulphur and fire” (Rev 20:10). But Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 5:8 to, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” This verse is a reminder that though invisible, this enemy can be recognised, and we are to remember that we have been thoroughly equipped to overcome him and his plans. People are never our enemy; the devil and his fallen angels are. Stay alert, aware and be “en garde’’ at all times. Protect relationships in your families and in this church family as the enemy will at this time attempt to bring offense, anger, unmet expectation, hurt, unforgiveness and division. Fight for your relationships. Protect them with everything you have. Do not let him in. Be on guard, don’t give any ground away and don’t let him in. En garde church! En garde!