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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pressing On in the Face of Adversity

I was tremendously encouraged by the first session of the men’s boot camp.  What a blessing to be in a room full of men who are serious about following the Lord in obedience.  Numerous men and wives have also expressed their encouragement at what the Lord is doing. It was a great time.
Whenever we are on the precipice of something like this, we can expect adversity to appear.  There may be a number of men who found it particularly difficult to make it last Saturday, for one reason or another.  Others may have had a big conflict with their wives in the days preceding or following that first session.  It’s possible that others have been unusually bombarded by demands at work this week.  Perhaps others have just experienced a myriad of distractions this week.  Maybe circumstances are conspiring to make it difficult to continue on this road.
It would be easy to become frustrated with the circumstances.  But consider that there may be something beneath those circumstances working to thwart our efforts to follow the Lord by leading our families well.  The Church does not fight against material things or material beings.  Our ultimate enemy is the devil and his demons, as we saw years ago in our study of Ephesians 6: 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 (Eph 6:12).  Our battle is spiritual in nature.
Since the battle is not material, but spiritual, the weapons we use are also spiritual.  2 Corinthians 10:3-4 reads, For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We have tools at our disposal empowered by God Himself.  They are the spiritual armor and weaponry detailed in Eph 6:13-18a:
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.
I won’t take the time here to explain these verses in the detail with which I explained them over the course of 7 sermons.  But what I would like to note is that we are not to fight spiritual battles by physical means.  We fight spiritual battles by spiritual means.  Each of the pieces of armor is a picture of an element of the gospel.  So one means by which we fight is meditation on gospel truths.  A second means is the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  A third is praying at all times.  These are the tools at our disposal.
If you find yourself discouraged this week by unusual adversity, do not be ignorant of the enemy’s designs (2 Cor 2:11).  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world (1Pet 5:8-9).  Meditate on the gospel, stay in the Word, be steadfast in prayer, and stay the course. 
Wives, please continue to pray for your husbands during the journey, knowing that there is a real enemy opposing him, but also a real Savior who answers prayer. 
The last thing our enemy wants is a church full of men who begin to take seriously their responsibility to lead their families to love God above all things.  We can expect some resistance.  But let’s not forget the Lord has not left us powerless and weaponless.  Let’s use the means he’s provided and press on.

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