Winning The Unseen Spiritual Battles

C.S. Lewis said, “If satan’s arsenal of weapons were restricted to a single one, it would be discouragement.” How true! In relation to our prayer time, satan tries to discourage with lies like—

    • “God has bigger things on His mind than your puny request!” 
    • “God helps those who help themselves; what have you done for yourself?”
    • “You created this situation and now you think God is going to bail you out?!?”
    • “Haven’t you prayed about this long enough already?” 
    • “Your prayers don’t really make a difference.” 

All of these lies are designed to discourage you, but always remember this—they are all lies! David said to God, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book. My enemies will retreat when I call to You for help. This I know: God is on my side!” (Psalm 56:8-9) 

A great example of a man who prayed long and hard—and fought off the things that might discourage him to give up—was Daniel. 

Daniel had previously been given insight from God to interpret dreams, visions, and other messages from heaven, but on one particular instance, he was stuck. God gave Daniel a vision, but not the meaning of that vision. 

Daniel began to do two things in the physical realm that results in two unseen spiritual victories taking place. 

First, Daniel prayed. Daniel not only prayed boldly, but he also prayed long. Although Daniel prayed for 21 days, when an angel arrived with God’s answer, the angel said, “From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your request was heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” 

Second, Daniel fasted. The word fast literally means “to cover the mouth.” In Daniel’s case, we know that for 21 days he abstained from meat and wine. But he also abstained from “choice food” (NIV). What are those? I think these might be our “comfort foods.” Foods we go to to help relieve stress. Foods that become substitute sources of help, instead of humbling ourselves to go to God and ask for wisdom. 

As Daniel was praying and fasting, it appeared that nothing was happening. But there were actually two victories won out of human sight. 

First, a spiritual battle was won. The angel sent to Daniel was locked in combat with a demon for 21 days before he broke free to come to Daniel. We are still involved in that kind of spiritual warfare today (see Ephesians 6:12-18). 

Second, Daniel was being refined and strengthened. When the angel arrived, he called Daniel “highly esteemed.” Don’t miss this—this greeting is the same Hebrew word used for what Daniel fasted (“choice food”). In other words, the temporary thing Daniel fasted turned into something of invaluable strength. 

What if Daniel had stopped praying after 2 days? 10 days? 20 days? 

Daniel—and you and I—may not see with our natural eyes the victories that are being won, but make no mistake about it: Our fasting and praying IS doing something amazing. 

Your prayers are being heard. Spiritual battles are being won. You are being refined. God IS going to accomplish something great. God IS being glorified. Don’t stop praying and fasting until God comes through!

Do not be discouraged as you wait on God. There is winning even in the waiting!

Join me this Sunday as we conclude on series looking at the bold pray-ers in the Bible. 

Thursdays With Oswald—Philanthropy, Prayer, And Penance

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Philanthropy, Prayer, And Penance 

     In chapter Matthew 5, our Lord demands that our disposition be right with Him in our ordinary natural life lived to men; in chapter 6, He deals with the domain of our life lived to God before men. The main idea in the region of religion is: Your eyes on God, not on men. …  

     Briefly summed up these verses [6:1-4] mean: Have no other motive in giving than to please God. In modern philanthropy we are ‘egged on’ with other motives—It will do them good; they need the help; they deserve it. Jesus Christ never brings out that aspect in His teaching; He allows no other motive in the giving than to please God. … It is a very penetrating thing to ask ourselves this question—“What was my motive in doing that kind act?” … 

     But when you give it to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” That means do good until it is an unconscious habit of the life and you do not know you are doing it…. 

     Have no other motive in prayer than to know Him [6:5-15]. … Call a halt one moment and ask yourself—“Why do I pray? What is my motive? Is it because I have a personal secret relationship to God known to no one but myself?” … 

     It is impossible to live the life of a disciple without definite times of secret prayer. You will find that the place to enter in is in your business, as you walk along the streets, in the ordinary ways of life, when no one dreams you are praying, and the reward comes openly, a revival here, a blessing there. …  

     In verse 8 Jesus goes to the root of all prayer—“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Common sense says, “Then why ask Him?” Prayer is not getting things from God, that is a most initial stage; prayer is getting into perfect communion with God; I tell him what I know He knows in order that I may get to know it as He does. …  

     Penance [6:16-18] means putting ourselves into a straitjacket for the sake of disciplining our spiritual character. Physical sloth will upset spiritual devotion quicker than anything else. If the devil cannot get at us by enticing to sin, he will get at us by sleeping-sickness spiritually…. Penance means doing a hardship to the body for the sake of developing the spiritual life. … Jeremy Taylor said that men hang out the sign of the devil; to prove there is an angel within; that is, they wear sad countenances and look tremendously severe in order to prove they are holy. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Good questions from Oswald Chambers:

  • Philanthropy—What was my motive in doing that kind act?
  • Prayer—Why do I pray? What is my motive? Is it because I have a personal secret relationship to God known to no one but myself?
  • Penance—Am I “hanging out a sign” just to let other people know that I’m discipling myself? 

Links & Quotes

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“It’s easy to label what we consider ‘good things’ in our lives as gifts from God and to welcome them with gratitude. But when difficult things happen, we don’t look at them as part of God’s good plan for us. Mary’s example [Luke 1:38] shows us we can also welcome those things we would not necessarily label ‘good,’ confident that God’s gifts sometimes come in perplexing and even painful packages. When we belong to God, we know He will use whatever He allows into our lives for good. Somehow, in God’s hands, these things also become gifts of His grace toward us.” —Nancy Guthrie

“Unless we intend completely to forfeit our holy seasons, and to allow them to be taken captive for the purposes of crass commercialism and narrow-minded narcissism, we need to make the best use of these times as God intends….” —T.M. Moore

“No one who is lost has lost one ounce of value to God. Even if you don’t have a relationship with Him, you have immense value to God. Lostness implies value. Whatever someone is willing to spend to recover something that’s lost shows how valuable that item is. In the most famous verse in the Bible, Jesus clearly explains our value: ‘God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).” —Rick Warren

If you have trouble knowing whether to use theirthere, or they’re, this may help.

“By giving to You what You do not need, and what I might enjoy, I am saying more earnestly and more authentically, ‘You are my treasure, not these things.’” —John Piper on fasting

I was going through an Advent reading plan on YouVersion, and I came across this quote: “Each Christmas is practice for the moment of Christ’s second coming, when every knee will bend, either in worship or terror.”

In this video, Brett Kunkle explains from Scripture and from personal observation how we know humans are born into sin.

“Many Christians today…choose to listen only to soft, flesh-assuring preaching. Where there is no convicting word, there can be no godly sorrow over sin. Where there is no godly sorrow for sin, there can be no repentance. And where there is no repentance, there is only hardness of heart.” —David Wilkerson

“We are tempted in our day to be ashamed of the gospel. It is thought to be bare, unintellectual, almost childish by many. Hence, they would overlay it with argument and eloquence, to make it more respectable and more attractive. Every such attempt to add to it is being ashamed of it [Romans 1:16].” —Horatius Bonar

Check out some absolutely stunning pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope!

Links & Quotes

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“You can’t love Christ too much. You can’t think about Him too much or thank Him too much or depend upon Him too much. All our justification, all our righteousness, is in Christ. This is the gospel—the good news that our sins are laid on Christ and His righteousness is laid on us, and that this great exchange happens for us not by works but by faith alone.” —John Piper

“The beginning of true revival comes when a godly company of believers takes on the Lord’s burden for a church or a city trapped in sin. This godly company fasts and prays, pleading with God to begin rebuilding the walls and gates that will protect His people from every enemy.” Read more in David Wilkerson’s post The Beginning Of Revival.

Even in the midst of ISIS persecution in the Middle East, there is some really good news!

[VIDEO] How do scientists come up with the date for Adam and Eve?

John Calvin On Prayer

John CalvinSome great quotes from John Calvin on prayer…

“Oh Lord, Heavenly Father, in Whom is the fullness of light and wisdom, enlighten our minds by Your Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive Your Word with reverence and humility, without which no one can understand Your truth.” —John Calvin

“O grant that we may learn to rely wholly on Your goodness.” —John Calvin

“Prayer is the spade with which we dig up all the promises in God’s garden.” – John Calvin  

“Whenever men are to pray to God concerning any great matter, it would be expedient to appoint fasting along with prayer. Their sole purpose in this kind of fasting is to render themselves more eager and unencumbered for prayer… with a full stomach our mind is not so lifted up to God.” – John Calvin

Links & Quotes

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“O that you and I might have this blessed combination in ourselves; to win the high opinion of others, so far as it can be gained by integrity, by uprightness, and by decision of character, and yet at the same time to walk humbly with our God!” —Charles Spurgeon

Hebrews infographicThe Overview Bible Project has another book study released on Hebrews. Read this and then please subscribe to have the latest studies sent right to your email. I love these!

David Wilkerson wrote, “All the mourning, brokenhearted men of God in the Bible had one thing in common….” Check out this short post to see what this powerful thing was.

“God uses appropriate doses of guilt to awaken us to sin. His guilt brings enough regret to change us. satan’s guilt, on the other hand, brings enough regret to enslave us. Don’t let him lock his shackles on you.” —Max Lucado

J. Warner Wallace is a Christian and a trained police detective. He does a great job helping evaluate the evidence for the claims of God. Check out this post: The Dangers Of “Scientism.”

Links & Quotes

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For my pastor friends: “A growing church is a work of God. We, His servants, matter only to the extent that we are faithful in our callings.” —T.M. Moore

“Maintaining doctrinal purity is good but it is not the whole picture for a New Testament church. The apostles wanted to do much more than simply ‘hold the fort,’ as the old gospel song says. They asked God to empower them to move out and impact an entire culture.” Read more from Jim Cymbala’s post His Hand Of Love.

“Read whatever chapter of Scripture you will, and be ever so delighted with it—yet it will leave you as poor, as empty and unchanged as it found you unless it has turned you wholly and solely to the Spirit of God, and brought you into full union with and dependence upon Him.” —William Law

Pastor Chilly Chilton has an important reminder: Being Mean Is MEAN.

If you are fasting during Lent, or if you simply fast on a regular basis, this post is helpful: Kingdom Fast: Caffeine.

Very helpful: Want To Get Your Dream Job? Do These 4 Things.

Ever been here? How To Pray When You Don’t Feel Like It.

Thoughtful words from Seth Godin: Kicking And Screaming (vs. singing and dancing).

Funny, but true, from Truth Facts

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