Posted: January 29th, 2013 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: believe in Jesus, believing God, God's love, God's will, God's word, Holy Spirit, spiritual warfare, trials, Truth | No Comments »
I’ve never been in the military, but I have two sons-in-law who are currently serving. Richard is a Marine and Ross is an Army Ranger. They’ve both been deployed to Afghanistan and know what it’s like to fight in a war.
For most of us in the United States though, we just don’t have much experience with war. Other than isolated terrorist attacks, we haven’t seen a war fought on our soil since the Civil War 150 years ago. We just don’t know what it’s like to have someone trying to kill us or to hear missiles exploding in our cities.
I wonder if that makes it easy to forget we actually are in a war.
Ephesians 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
Something happened to us when we placed our faith in Christ. God changed us. He gave us a new nature. Our spirit came alive. And He blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing. But there’s something else going on in the heavenly realms…
Ephesians 6:10-12 says:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
We’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms and that is also the place in which we must do battle. But as Paul said, our struggle is not against flesh and blood. We’re not fighting an enemy armed with guns and grenades. We are battling evil beings in an unseen realm. That is why in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul wrote:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
There’s a battle being fought for control of your mind. God wants you to know the truth, believe it and live by it. Satan and his demonic forces of evil will attempt to lie and deceive, so that you will live in fear, worry and anxiety–and never experience the life God has for you. Satan will tempt you to get your needs met in ways outside God’s will. Your enemy will try to convince you that God is angry or disappointed with you. He wants you to feel defeated and discouraged.
So Paul says we’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Do you know what they are?
He also tells us to put on the full armor of God so that we can take our stand against Satan. Do you know what armor is available to you?
Are you aware of the lies or deceptions you may be believing?
If you’re a little unsure about how to answer those questions–let me encourage you to dig into Ephesians yourself. I could give you the answers to those questions, but you’ll get so much more benefit by discovering the answers yourself. You can read the entire letter in about fifteen minutes. What if you were to read it once or twice a day?
Spiritual blessings await you–things God has already accomplished on your behalf. But Satan doesn’t want you to know what they are or to ever experience them. So you’re going to have to fight. Like you, I wish life could be easier, but it’s not. We need to deal with life as it is, not as we wish it could be.
By the way, Paul mentions the “heavenly realms” a couple other places in his letter to the Ephesians. For the first ten people to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the other two verses–I’ll send you free copies (PDF versions) of my 40 day devotional book, “I Believe God”, as well as my book “50 Ways to Slowly Kill Your Marriage.”
Posted: March 30th, 2012 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: believing God, Difficulties, discouragement, fear, God's word, pain and suffering, priorities, seeking God, spiritual battle, spiritual warfare, worry | No Comments »
In Fayetteville, Arkansas, it’s a beautiful spring day. Sunny, but not too hot. Nice breeze. My son is out of school today and is currently taking a nap in his hammock in the backyard. If it weren’t for the pollen, it would be perfect.
It’s a day like today that gives us a little glimpse of heaven. And when I say “heaven”, I mean the new earth. Revelation 21:1-5 says:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Heaven is not some spiritual dimension in which we’ll float around forever as disembodied spirits. If that’s been your view, then you probably haven’t been very excited about spending an eternity there. Maybe you’ve felt the tension I used to feel. You know you should desire to be in heaven, but if you’re honest–you’re a lot more attracted to a beautiful spring day on earth.
Well, the good news is that heaven will be much like the beautiful spring day…only without sin, pain or death. The first two chapters of Genesis and the last two chapters of Revelation give us a picture of what God intended. We’ll have bodies. We’ll recognize each other. We’ll eat and drink. We’ll work (and enjoy it!). We’ll live in friendship with others. We’ll worship. And God will be there with us. I believe heaven will be far better than we can imagine, but it will not be unfamiliar to us.
But we’re not there yet, are we?
My friend Jeff had another surgery this week to remove a tumor from his liver. He’s been battling liver and colon cancer for over a year. My son-in-law is a United States Marine and is currently deployed to Afghanistan. He would confirm it’s not heaven. He’s in a war.
This is not peace time. Not in Afghanistan. And not where you live either.
We are in a spiritual fight for our lives. The battles may often be unseen, but they are no less real.
Yesterday, a very close friend of mine was attacked. It was a spiritual attack. It was powerful. It was well-coordinated and well-timed. And it was pure evil.
Heaven is real. It will exceed our wildest expectations. And for now, we get glimpses of it. But let’s not forget we’re in a war. A real one. With deadly, eternal consequences. It’s not being fought in the mountains of Afghanistan. It’s being fought in our minds.
Satan and the demons that fight with him are liars. They are deceivers. They are tempters. Their goal is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). One of their most effective strategies is whispering lies to us. Lies about God. Lies about ourselves. Lies about this life.
If we listen to a lie long enough–we begin to believe it’s true. We begin to repeat it to ourselves. Our emotions line up with it. So does our behavior.
Are you battling an addiction? A destructive behavior? A bad habit you can’t break?
Do you often feel anxious? Or angry? Or discouraged? Or worried?
Then you’re believing a lie. And the only defense is to know the truth and act on it. There’s no other way.
1 John 5:19 tells us that “…the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” You and I live in enemy territory. One day, God will banish Satan and his demonic army to hell, but that hasn’t happened yet. Today, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
You and I are called to submit ourselves to God, stop living according to the world’s ways and be transformed as our minds are renewed (Romans 12:1-2). We become more like Christ when we begin to think and act like He does. That makes us useful in God’s hands in advancing His kingdom on earth.
It’s easy to let sunny spring days, material things and physical pleasures numb us to the fact that there’s a war raging all around us. It doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy life. But it does mean we don’t forget we’re not really home yet. This isn’t heaven. There’s still a war to be fought.
I left out the first sentence in 1 Peter 5:8. It says, “Be self-controlled and alert.”
Posted: February 22nd, 2011 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Relationships, Truth | Tags: crime, evil, Jesus, spiritual battle, spiritual warfare, war, world view | No Comments »
The Magic Kingdom is, well, magical.
I’ve never been to one, but a state dinner at the White House is a very impressive affair.
A well-acted play pulls us into the story and moves us emotionally.
It’s always a different story though when we pull back the curtain. We see how things really work. We see who’s calling the shots. We see the good, the bad and the ugly.
It’s easy to walk through life and not give much thought to the action going on “behind-the-scenes.” We have to though. That’s the action that gives context to what we see happening around us everyday.
Perhaps most importantly, we cannot ever forget there’s a battle raging all around us. There always has been. Satan rebelled against God and took a third of the angels with him. He and his demonic forces now roam planet earth wreaking havoc.
“Steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10)
Satan wants to keep as many people as possible from coming to know Christ. For those who already know Christ, Satan wants to rob us of our joy and peace. He deceives us and lies to us and tempts us to go our own way rather than God’s way.
The battle is being fought over the souls of men and women. God desires that all come to know Him. Satan desires that none do.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but there is a battle. It’s against evil spiritual beings who in many cases accomplish their purposes through flesh and blood human beings. That means there is evil in the world. And there are some who stand on the side of what is good and right…and others who do not.
I wish the world could be at peace, but that will not ever be possible until Jesus returns. Unseen evil forces will see to it that wars will continue to be fought, women will be raped, children will be abused and minorities will be oppressed.
Current events, both foreign and domestic, must always be interpreted through the grid of God’s word. We cannot simply take everything at face value. There’s a battle being fought and we’re right in the middle of it.
Posted: March 17th, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: angels, demons, prayer, spiritual warfare | No Comments »
Yesterday, I suggested that perhaps God sometimes delays answering our prayers because He enjoys it when we seek Him. Has it occurred to you that God not only loves you, but also likes you? He wants you to spend time with Him. Not just for your benefit, but because He also receives pleasure from your friendship with Him.
There are other reasons we don’t see answers to some of our prayers, but I want to touch on just one of those today. In Daniel 10, Daniel is visited by an angel who has come in response to his prayer. The angel explains that he started to come on the very first day that Daniel began to pray, but was detained for three weeks.
Detained by whom? Who could detain an angel for so long?
The angel tells Daniel that it was the “prince of the Persian kingdom”, a demon, who had resisted him. He had fought this demon prince for 21 days and was not able to make it to Daniel until Michael, “one of the chief princes, came to help…”
Sometimes we don’t like to think about the fact that there’s a literal (just unseen) war raging all around us. Honestly, I don’t think we have any idea of the fierce nature of the fighting. But it’s real. It’s happening now. And you and I are the prize.
Could it be that an answer to your prayer is on the way? Could it be that a battle is being fought in response to your request?
Daniel prayed for 21 days. What if he had stopped after 14 days? Or 20 days? Would the angel still have come?
We really need to persist in our prayers. We have no idea what may be taking place around us.
One other thought: if there’s a demon prince over Persia and one over Greece (read Daniel 10), then is there one over other countries? What about regions or states? Could their be a demon over your neighborhood or school?
Ephesians 6 seems to indicate an organizational hierarchy when it comes demonic forces. I just don’t have any trouble believing there are spiritual forces of evil organized against us. What would the alternative be…that they just run amok? I think they’re too intelligent for that.
I don’t mean to suggest that we should have an unhealthy preoccupation with demons, but I suspect that’s not the problem most of us have. I tend to think we don’t give much, if any, thought to the evil forces in the unseen realm who are bent on our destruction.
Posted: February 19th, 2010 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Difficulties, Truth | Tags: believing God, believing the truth, spiritual warfare | No Comments »
I came across a road sign the other day that warned:
Road Closed When Under Water
Yeah, that seems like a good idea.
I think the older I get, the more I appreciate road signs. I want to know when a sharp turn or steep decline is approaching…especially at night…in the rain. When conditions are dangerous or potentially dangerous…I appreciate a heads-up.
Life is like that, too. There are danger zones that require a warning. I like to know what they are.
As we choose to draw near to God, we can count on opposition. Don’t be surprised by it. Definitely don’t be discouraged by it. It’s probably confirmation you’re on the right path. It is important to be aware of it though.
Remember how Jesus described our enemy in John 8:44…
“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
What will he lie about? Everything. He’ll lie about your standing before God. He’ll lie about God’s love for you. He’ll lie about God’s character. He’ll lie about the consequences of sin. He’ll lie about anything and everything. His goal is to create distance between you and God.
He is scheming (Ephesians 6:11) to keep you from drawing near during these 40 days. He knows just what will keep you away. What will distract you. What will discourage you. What will tempt you.
Be sure of this though, he will be covert. Don’t expect him to show up as the face of evil. No, he’s more crafty and subtle than that. In 2 Corinthians 11:14, Paul wrote, “…Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”
What are we to do?
First, don’t quit. Don’t give up. Decide now to persevere. Expect some obstacles and difficulties, but don’t let them stop you.
Second, believe the truth. There’s no other way. We must know, believe and act on the truth. Being in God’s word, the Bible, is absolutely essential.
Enjoy the journey ahead. Just be alert, too.