Don’t Back Down

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In “Three Lessons in Spiritual Warfare from Joshua 1”, we talked about how crucial it is to know the Father’s heart before entering warfare.  Since we are fighting the battle that he has already won, of course it is imperative that we know what things are on the Father’s heart and go after those things.  Anything else is completely counterproductive and a waste of time.  One of the main ways we discover the Father’s heart is by daily meditation on his Word.  God told Joshua that he would have great success in taking the land God had promised to the Israelites when he meditated on God’s Word day and night.

One huge danger though, is that after we’ve connected with God’s heart and believe we know what his plans are for a situation, we can be tempted to back down when we meet opposition.  In fact, oftentimes in spiritual warfare, there is an attack from the enemy in the exact area that God has revealed to us that he is working. 

I feel like this has happened recently on a grand scale in 2020.  Last year, God was calling many people to have quiet time with him.  Song of Solomon 2:10, “Rise up, my love, and come away with me”, was on the minds of many people.  So, lots of us went for retreats with Jesus.  (Interestingly, Jesus called me away on my retreat with him before I realized he was doing that with other women. It remained a theme I noticed throughout the year.) While on my retreat with Jesus at a bed and breakfast, I felt like he had 2 main things on his heart.  One was for me to truly believe deep down that I am completely pure and clean in his sight. The other was that his heart desires for the body of Christ to be unified like never before.  I hope to devote an entire post on why the body being unified right now is so important, but for now let’s just say that I left that time in the spring of 2019 with a burning urgency for God’s people to celebrate all our differences and be united around our love for one another and Jesus.  I started declaring Scriptures about unity, praying bold prayers about unity, walking the streets of my city and praying for unity in my city, etc.  And I was excited.  I was expecting God to bring about an amazing move of unity in his world wide church.

And then March 2020 happened.  From the looks of things, division is being sown rather than unity.  And many of the things that we used to do to foster community, togetherness, and unity, have been taken away.  It’s almost like the enemy knew we wanted unity, and said, “Ah, then I’ll take away even being able to visit your very own extended family.” Of course, at first glance, it looks rather grim.  I have Facebook friends who used to love each other arguing over politics, racial division seems to be at an all time high, and churches in some states are closed.

This is where we walk by faith and not by sight.  This is where we remember what God said, remember what is on his heart, remind ourselves by meditating on the Scriptures day and night.  This is where we don’t back down.   Jacob believed God had a blessing for him and did not back down, wrestling with God all night long until the blessing was given.  No matter what Satan is doing for evil, we look to what God has already said he is doing for good and we keep moving forward.

Of course Satan doesn’t want unity in the body of Christ.  Of course Satan doesn’t want the other things on the Father’s heart that God has shown you as you meditate on his word.  Of course the enemy is fighting back. Now is the time, church, to stand up and remember who God is and what his promises are.  It is the time to declare that “no one shall be able to stand against us all the days of our lives.”  Did God reveal his heart to you and commission you to fight for the work that he is doing upon the earth through your prayers?  Then believe that no scheme of the enemy will prosper against you. Continue to carry God’s heart with you; continue to declare His Word in your quiet time, in your home, with your family and in your streets.  Contend for the vision he gave you of what is on his heart, and do not give up. 

The world wide church of Jesus Christ will have unity.  We will not just lay aside our differences — we will celebrate our differences in joyful love with one another, and we will gather with one heart, mind, and voice around our King Jesus who is our God and Savior.  In our unity, we will reveal the glory of God to the world.  This will happen; it is the Father’s heart for his people, and no one shall be able to stand against us all our days.

Scriptures:

Genesis 50:20

Joshua 1:5

Joshua 1:8

Isaiah 54:17

Matthew 16:18

Exodus 34:6-7

Prayer points/questions to contemplate:

Ask the Father to reveal his heart for the world, the church, your city, our nation, your family, or you as you read and meditate on his Word today. Don’t back down until you’ve seen his heart in this area.

What did God reveal to you?

When you look with your eyes, are you tempted to become afraid that God is not doing what is on his heart?   Cast this anxiety on him, for he cares for you. 

What is God calling you to do in order to demonstrate that you believe he will accomplish his word?

To Those Who Go Down to Egypt for Help and Rely on Horses

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When we watch the news and consider what is going on around us, it is easy to start feeling fearful.  That fear leads us to look for “good guys” and “bad guys” that we can either trust in or blame so that we can regain some inner peace.  It’s so easy to fall into the trap of blaming and fighting against people and trusting in and looking to people.  Both of these reactions, while they may temporarily bring a sedative effect, are counterproductive.  We start feeling ill will towards our neighbors and friends.  So and so voted for the “bad guys”, or the “good guys” disappointed us and didn’t accomplish what we expected of them.  We’re tempted to blame political parties, political organizations and ideals, celebrities or social figures, and even entire social classes or people groups.  Take a deep breath.  You know this isn’t you.  You know the fear and the hate and the blame isn’t what you were made for.

The fact of the matter is, we’re not wrestling against flesh and blood.  The battle we are in (and yes, it is a battle — I am not being melodramatic) has been going on long before we were around.  It was around long before the Democrats or the Republicans were around.  It’s older than Hollywood, older than the “Deep State”, older than the Civil Rights movements, older than the US Constitution.  This is a battle between Satan and God Most High himself.  It is a battle that involves principalities and powers in heavenly places, and it won’t be fought and won with physical tactics because it is not a physical fight.

We know who wins this fight.  In fact, he already has.  Our Father has invited us to join in with him and “practice” learning to fight spiritual battles.  It’s an amazing way to get to learn….we’re fighting in a battle that he’s already won, so there is no way that we can mess it up. 

So you’re invited.  You’re invited to let go of the vain grasping for some sort of victory through laying blame and aligning with human organizations.  You’re invited to learn to fight spiritually, in the way that really matters.   When things shift spiritually, things change physically. The physical unrest and upheaval we see are symptoms.  Let’s learn to make a difference deep down at the roots.

Scriptures to pray:

Proverbs 3:5-6 English Standard Version (ESV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

    and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him,

    and he will make straight your paths.

From <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+3%3A5-6&version=ESV>

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!

From <https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=trust+in+egypt&qs_version=ESV>

Ephesians 6:10-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For 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. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

From <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=eph+6%3A10-18&version=ESV>

Jeremiah 2:12-13 English Standard Version (ESV)

12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this;

    be shocked, be utterly desolate,

declares the Lord,

13 for my people have committed two evils:

they have forsaken me,

    the fountain of living waters,

and hewed out cisterns for themselves,

    broken cisterns that can hold no water.

English Standard Version (ESV)

From <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+2%3A12-13&version=ESV>

Prayer points:

Ask that God would open our eyes to see ways that we have sinned by trusting in people, organizations, political parties or politicians, institutions, or any thing other than God himself.  Are there broken cisterns we have been drinking from?

Ask God to fill us up with His love and Spirit so that we look to Him alone for deliverance and not to any thing else.

Repent for any ways that we have fought against our neighbors in the flesh by word or deed or by harboring ill will towards them.  Ask God for mercy, grace, strength, and insights so that we can bless our neighbors and do good to those we may even consider our enemies, so that we can show the love of God the Father to them.  His kindness leads to repentance.  Ask God to open our eyes to way that we can pour out kindness to those around us. 

Ask the Father to open our eyes so that we can see what HE is doing, rather than constantly looking to see what our favorite “hero” is doing to help us.  We want eyes open prayer.

Three Lessons in Spiritual Warfare from Joshua 1

We owe it to the generations coming after us to do everything we can to leave them a world that is more like heaven than the world we inherited.  Sometimes by looking at the news, it feels like that is not happening.  I’m here to give perspective on the big picture view of what is actually happening in our nation and the world, and then to give practical strategies and tips for how we can do the most effective, most important thing possible in leaving our children with a world more like heaven.  We can engage in spiritual warfare against the spiritual forces at work behind the scenes and pray like never before.  Now is the time to rise up and believe that you were created for such a time as this, get on your knees and believe your prayers are effective, and watch our Father fight our battles.  We’re going to learn how to pray with eyes wide open.

The book of Joshua is an amazing resource for understanding how to engage in spiritual warfare.  Father God had led his people out of slavery in Egypt through his servant Moses, and after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, God’s people had finally made it to the Promised Land.  The land was filled with giants, however, and Moses’ successor, Joshua, had to lead God’s people in battle against the giants.  This story is a picture of how our Joshua (Jesus) is leading us in battle against spiritual forces in order to take possession of the land God has given us.  We will delve into all of this in much more depth as we move along in this blog.  For now, however, I’m giving you a few quick points from Joshua chapter 1 that will help set the stage for the rest of what we discuss in the blog, and will help you get started immediately in spiritual warfare.

1.)  Prayer is discovering God’s heart and agreeing with it. 

 “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you.  Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” Joshua 1:6-8 

It’s easy to read the word “Law” here and immediately just think of the book of Leviticus.  First of all, Leviticus is an amazing book that reveals God’s heart!  But, beyond that, the word “Law” actually refers to the Torah which is the first 5 books of the Bible.  It reveals God’s heart in the creation of mankind, in his redemptive plan after man’s fall, in God’s plan for the entire world through Abraham’s family, in his rescue of Abraham’s family from slavery in Egypt, in his care in giving them Laws to keep them safe, etc.  The Torah is one beautiful story and instruction after another that gives us an intimate view into the Father’s heart.  He told Joshua that the way to be successful in taking the land filled with giants was to keep God’s heart for his people in Joshua’s mind and in his mouth.  To believe and agree with God’s heart for his people is crucial to success in spiritual warfare.

2.)  You need to know who God says you are and agree with that in order to have success in spiritual warfare.

“Moses my servant is dead.  Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.”  Josh 1:2

“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” Josh 1:5

This must have been an intense time for Joshua! His mentor, Moses, had been the one who spoke with God face to face as a man speaks to his friend.  Moses had performed incredible miracles and had guided God’s people through plagues, and had brought them through a 40 year journey.  He brought water out of rocks, and he prayed to God on behalf of the people when they rebelled.  These were some really big shoes for Joshua to fill, and I love how God got straight to the point.  Yes, Joshua’s mentor had died.  But God was going to be with Joshua just like he had been with Moses, and God told Joshua “for YOU shall cause this people to inherit the land” (Josh 1:6).  God met him right where he was afraid, acknowledged that fear, and then told Joshua who Joshua was — the man who would bring the Israelites to their land. 

In the same way, you have areas that you feel lacking.  Does God really hear your prayers even though you’re not a missionary or a pastor?  “I’m certainly not Moses or Joshua”, you may be thinking.  Before you can be ready to meet the giants that we will be discovering over the next few days in this blog series, you must believe you are who God says you are.  Spend some time with him, and reveal to God what your deepest fears about spiritual warfare are.  Then let him give you the truth about who you are in him.  He is the one who has created you for such a time as this.  He knows what gifts he has given you.  And he sees exactly how YOU are the person for the task ahead.

3.)  Spiritual warfare isn’t just mental and verbal, it also requires putting your shoes on.

James said that “faith without works is dead”.  Real faith results in outward actions.  James was talking primarily about caring for our neighbors with good works and in walking in justice, and not just talking a big talk.  But, one way that we can actually engage in spiritual warfare is by getting our feet active.  It’s one thing to hide in our rooms and pray what we think we want God to do.  It’s another to get out into our streets, walk around in our neighborhoods, and ask God what he sees.  It’s amazing the things that God then will bring to our hearts to ask on  behalf of all the people around us.  These are real people that we’ve been praying for, but maybe because we’ve removed ourselves they’ve started to feel less like people and more just like ideals we were hoping for.  God told Joshua to “arise” — get up out of your tent and look around at the land I’m giving you.  He also said, “every place that the sole of your feet will tread upon I have given to you”.  As Joshua walked around, meditating on God’s heart and promises, he was taking back the territory promised to God’s people as he moved his feet.  It’s incredible.  In the same way, when we get out of our churches and houses and look around at what needs to change in our communities, and we meditate and declare God’s promises regarding those issues, change starts to take place.  We aren’t slaying physical giants anymore, but we are battling against spiritual forces.  When we get out and about and see the giants with our eyes (see what the spiritual forces are doing against our neighbors),  we can then speak God’s word and use the sword of the Spirit against the forces of darkness.  God’s word really is powerful.  The fervent prayer of the righteous man really does avail much.

I started meditating on this verse a few years ago when my husband had a job that required us to make a lot of cross country trips.  We would load up boxes and boxes of essential oils chemistry books that he needed for teaching, pack enough food and clothes for a couple weeks, cram our kids’ homeschool books in the car, and head out.  It was a fun, adventurous time in our lives.  One year we went through St. Loius, MO 4 times.  We went through Tennessee (what a loooooong trip!) 3 times that year.  We also went to CA, WA, OR, Ontario, and a long list of other places during those years.  Sometime around the 2nd or 3rd time in 2 years that we were in MO again, I remembered this verse. “Ok, God, you sure do have me in St. Louis a lot,” I thought. And I started believing that somehow as my husband and I zigzagged across the United States and Canada, we were taking back territory for the kingdom of heaven.  I didn’t understand how (Was I somehow going to own St. Louis in heaven?), but I believed on some spiritual level — in some way I couldn’t see — I was actively engaging in a spiritual battle just by sitting in the passenger seat and believing God’s promises.   Now any time I walk or drive a stretch of land numerous times, I pay attention.  “Why do you have me on this street again, Jesus?” I ask him what his heart is for those houses, that street, that city.  Then I can say those things out loud and do warfare with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, while I walk with my feet.

Over the next few weeks, we’re planning to go deep into what God’s heart is for our families, neighborhoods, our nation, and the world.  We’re also going to frankly look at what the giants in the land are up to.  We’re not going to shrink back, because we are well able to take the land, and God is with us just as he was with Moses.  We’re going to believe we are who God says we are, and we’re going to keep our eyes wide open as we spend time in our communities and see what change actually needs to take place.  We’re going to walk forward, believing all of God’s promises, and fighting in the strength of his might, as we wield the sword of the Spirit.  It’s going to be intense!  But it’s worth it.  We’re going to take back the land for our children and our children’s children.