While I Pass by In Safety

While I Pass by In Safety

“Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8

Have you ever heard the old saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change.”?  Well, I believe there is a similar understanding when it comes to the spiritual opposition we face as ministers of the gospel.  I would word it something like this – if you haven’t encountered a dirty plot from the enemy, just wait a short while, it’ll come.

There should be a sign that is perpetually out in front of us that reads, “Ministers beware; traps ahead.”  Truth be told, as Ephesians 6:12 warns us, “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.”  This tells me the spiritual world is more influential than the physical, and if we are not mindful of this, we will find ourselves under the heavy hand of a ruthless adversary.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, said about the evil in our world, “One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe—a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin…Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is…I know someone will ask me, ‘Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil…’Yes, I do.’…If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, ‘Don’t worry.  If you really want to, you will.  Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.’”

My aim in this article is not to give elevated attention to our enemy or to evil in general.  Nor is it to give fear any credence or space to function in our hearts and minds.  Quite the opposite in fact.  My desire is to simply recognize that there is an opposition to all we do as followers of Christ and as leaders within the church and, to encourage our heeding the warnings found in scripture while standing in faith as we press forward into our callings.

As leaders at New Life Church within Groups and Section Community, I think it’s important that we remember that we still operate in a fallen world where sin and evil persist.  Our little isle of Christian comfort can lead us to forget that the enemy, as is read in this article’s opening scripture, is as real as ever and is in constant search for those who will give him space to work.  He is particularly fond of preying on those with churchy influence.

Therefore, in building on what was written last week in regard to intercession, praying on behalf of others, this week I want to point you to and encourage you in the prayer of Psalm 141, which is an honoring praise for God and a prayer for personal protection from that which the enemy uses to bring harm.  I encourage your reading and praying the entirety of the chapter, but in particular I want to share the final three verses.

But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death. Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers, from the snares they have laid for me. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.”

David, the author of Psalm 141, new he was as weak in his flesh as any other person.  He knew that he was susceptible to evil’s inglorious ways.  He knew that there was a way that was far from God and that would ultimately lead him astray.  Thus, he prayed in anticipation of his enemy’s plans, in preparation for the encounter of evil traps and snares.  The goal?  To pass by in safety, without a scratch, or even a hint of sinful affect or physical impairment.  He knew his only hope was in the Almighty One and, thus, he pressed in.

1 Peter 5:8 also provides us a quick hint into our practical role in avoiding the enemy’s wiles.  It tells us to “Be alert and of sober mind.”  Essentially, we need to be vigilant in keeping our eyes and ears open for those things that can trip us up.  As well, to be sober minded means to ensure that we are always in a position to think clearly.  Sin clouds our minds, hinders our vision, deafens our ears, and impairs our judgment.  When we allow sin to linger in our lives, or even those elements of temptation that tend to lead us into sinful decision making, we are essentially opening the front door of our home to the very one that wants to steel our things, kill our lives, and destroy our property (John 10:10).  Sin builds on itself and will eventually lead us into deaths vice grip (James 1:15).  Sin will bring death to our ministries, to our hope, to our faith, and potentially even to our physical bodies.

Remember, you can “pass by in safety” if you remain “alert and of sober mind” and if you seek first the kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33) of the One who came to give us life and life abundantly (John 10:10), who gave us freedom for freedoms sake (Galatians 5:1), and who leads us not into temptation but delivers us from the evil one (Matthew 6:13).  For “If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31)

Go Deeper – Grow Stronger

On Behalf Of Others

Thousands of young men and women have descended upon the New Life Church campus from all over the country this week so as to encounter the Lord Jesus at the 2017 Desperation Conference. For three days our Desperation staff and DLA students are hosting these brothers and sisters in Christ, and as always we are witnessing the faithfulness of God as He draws close to those who are seeking Him.

 

Following the amazing experiences of this week we will clean up, turn around, and then welcome our very own New Life little-ones next week during our annual four day Kids Camp. Here, our kids will “engage in worship, games and activities, mission’s projects, small group discussions,” and they will partake in a number of other fun and exciting kids oriented activities.

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The Community of the House of God

On Sunday we had the privilege of hearing from the newest member of the New Life Church pastoral leadership team, Pastor Andrew Arndt. He spoke a sermon entitled “Jesus and His People.” The message was very much in line with the purpose of section community and small groups here at New Life Church and, thus, for this article I want to share in this regard, drawing from what Pastor Andrew taught.

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Our Obedience – God’s Response

“Sometimes, Damon, you just have to take the step.” This one sentence changed the trajectory of my life back in the year 2000. It was spoken by a pastor and friend of mine who was sharing his story with me in relation to what I was sharing with him. At that time I was a very juvenile twenty-three year old with no real understanding of the real world. I lacked knowledge and experience, had been married for less than two years, and was a brand-new dad. To say the least, my head was spinning, especially as my wife expressed her strong desire to be home with our newly minted little one. She had made this known to me in the months predating his birth and reminded me often in the months that postdated his arrival. However, I knew that I could not support the three of us with my work alone. Without her employment, we would lose more than half our income and our benefits to boot. In my young and immature faith, I had no capacity for understanding God’s power and ability, or the way in which He responds to the obedience of His sons and daughters.

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Consider Him…

Memorial weekend came and passed in its annual manner and with it our thoughts, memories, and gratitude were, and will continue to be, extended to every person, known to us personally or not, that sacrificed for our freedom as United States citizens. The very traditions that we get to participate in over this weekend exist primarily because of those who gave up their rights for ours. They, along with the veterans they fought along side, are the very reason our country exists, our opinions matter, our luxuries remain lush, and our freedoms abound. Words cannot express what these individuals mean to all of us.

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