Tag Archives: spiritual warfare

2 Corinthians 8-12

Paul certainly endured a lot. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, he lists the many things (physically and mentally painful things) he went through–and survived. But it’s the portion before this that prepares me: And I will keep on

12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

2 Corinthians 11:12-15, NIV

Paul endured so many things, but it is in these verses that I see purpose. He knows there’s a spiritual battle at hand. A quest for hearts, minds, souls.

His examples straddle two realms. When he speaks of generosity, the fruit is enjoyed in a physical realm, the seed provided by a spiritual one.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians 9:10-15, NIV

I notice it here too–the world and the divine:

I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 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.

2 Corinthians 10:2-5, NIV

Because he has such a deep understanding, he has learned to welcome endurance.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7b-10, NIV, emphasis mine

Lord, help me to remember the words “And I will keep on” in the face of adversity. I am thankful for your provision and your power. I am grateful for your Word as truth, for weapons that have divine power.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 29:14-32:10

Job searches for cause and effect. He examines his life and his actions. He remembers the good that he has done. So why?

“I thought, ‘I will die in my own house,
    my days as numerous as the grains of sand.
19 My roots will reach to the water,
    and the dew will lie all night on my branches.
20 My glory will not fade;
    the bow will be ever new in my hand.’ (Job 29:18-20, NIV)

His pain, suffering, and exclusion would have made sense to him if he were a terrible man, even a secret sinner. But he was a good man. So why?

“If I have rejoiced at my enemy’s misfortune
    or gloated over the trouble that came to him—
30 I have not allowed my mouth to sin
    by invoking a curse against their life—
31 if those of my household have never said,
    ‘Who has not been filled with Job’s meat?’—
32 but no stranger had to spend the night in the street,
    for my door was always open to the traveler—
33 if I have concealed my sin as people do,
    by hiding my guilt in my heart (Job 31:29-33, NIV)

It’s a formula I’ve come to count on, perhaps erroneously. If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded. Good job performance should equal a raise or promotion. Kind acts should beget kindness returned. But life is much more complicated than that.

I have grasped grief and hope with the same hands. And Job’s grappling with his situation feels like hope being pried from his grip.

“Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man
    when he cries for help in his distress.
25 Have I not wept for those in trouble?
    Has not my soul grieved for the poor?
26 Yet when I hoped for good, evil came;
    when I looked for light, then came darkness.
27 The churning inside me never stops;
    days of suffering confront me.
28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun;
    I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.
29 I have become a brother of jackals,
    a companion of owls.
30 My skin grows black and peels;
    my body burns with fever.
31 My lyre is tuned to mourning,
    and my pipe to the sound of wailing. (Job 30:24-31, NIV)

In the bigger picture, the one of holding this book in my hands and knowing the start of Job’s story to the end, I want to whisper to him in these chapters, “It isn’t over yet.”

I know that God considered Job faithful. I know that Satan wanted to test Job’s faith–and likely more than that, wanted to completely destroy it (after all, the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy). The battlefield moves inward as Job expresses those thoughts aloud. Outwardly losing his wealth and family, suffering in health, to inwardly the thoughts that circle in his mind–the grounds for anger, resentment, confusion, doubt, despair. Which is harder: the outer battle or the inner battle?

When my thoughts try to pry hope from my grip, I want to remember this–the bigger picture. The bigger picture Job didn’t see. The bigger picture that tells me in the hardship, “It isn’t over yet.” The bigger picture where Jesus declares it is finished and that he is coming back.

Lord, I’ve lost years in the grapple to make sense of what is with what should be. In the heavy days of what is, let me remember the hope of what will be.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 21-23; Psalm 101; Revelation 16

Job’s story reminds me–there is a spiritual realm. And if I didn’t know the beginning of his story, when Satan and God spoke of Job, my opinions would bounce around as much as Job’s and his friends’ do. It’s hard to find logic and cause-and-effect in situations that don’t make any sense. I understand Job’s resentment that evil people get away with doing evil things–they may even be honored through it. Or, like Eliphaz, I might think that bad things happen because someone (however unknowingly) brought it upon himself. Job was known for his faith, but even as he speaks, I hear the deep grief and grappling of his thoughts. If a man who was known by God to have a strong faith is tossed about by his emotions in crisis and calamity, oh, what of me? There is a lesson here.

If I live in ignorance of the spiritual realm, then the hard things that happen in life can seem a logical reward when there is cause-and-effect, but when life doesn’t make sense, the hard things just seem cruel. When I live with a Kingdom focus, I can see the refining work of God through trial. If he never built me up through difficult situations, I may not be capable of withstanding disaster. Job talks of cliches, and I think of the phrase I’ve thought and spoken, “God equips those he calls.” And maybe this equipping sometimes comes through training and trial.

What does spiritual warfare look like in end times?

So the first angel left the Temple and poured out his bowl on the earth, and horrible, malignant sores broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue.

Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse. And everything in the sea died.

Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs, and they became blood […] … and they cursed the name of God, who had control over all these plagues. They did not repent of their sins and turn to God and give him glory. (Revelation 16:2-4, 9, NLT)

In the midst of disease, calamity, torment, the people curse God’s name, angered that he had the power to stop it, but didn’t. They do not repent of their sins. They do no turn to God. They do not give him glory. They are unaware of the true battle and the battlefield. They do not understand their role in it.

While not part of today’s reading, this verse stood out to me recently: This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful. (Revelation 13:10b, NLT)

I think of Job. Standing outside these stories, it’s easy to throw down a trite response. In fact, reading through parts of Revelation, I couldn’t help but think, “Y’all need Jesus.” But today, this moment, I say to myself: God, I need you. I need your word in my head, in my hands, in my heart. I need your guidance. I need your strength.

Father God, I used to look at the wounds and hurts of life as fractures, but now I see them as chiseling away to define (strengthen) me and to make me more like the image of your son. Help me to keep a Kingdom focus, to live with clarity, to stand in faith, to bring you glory.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 34-35; 2 Corinthians 6

I took a Saturday self-defense workshop recently. I learned a lot (I’ve forgotten a lot, too!). Our group had hands-on practice and drills. At the end of the session, we formed a circle, and one by one, each of us took a turn in the center to “battle” those of us forming the outside ring with kicks and punches. It was a simulation of a situation where one stood against several. The instructor had a way of encouraging us to take action when we hesitated. He bellowed loudly, forcefully, and commanded, “GO!”

I think on moments in life when I had felt uncertainty, fear, hesitation, intimidation. Moments (at a table instead of encircled in an alley) where I had to face a foe–whether human or situational: to take on a responsibility, to address a conflict, to speak truth, to be accountable. In some of the most stressful moments of my life, I can practically guarantee that I wouldn’t have wanted to be there. But want or not, there I was.

Paul found himself in situations I could only describe as outrageous. How many times had he stared death in the eye? How many times did he go head-to-head with evil? He spoke from experience and reality. I read his words in The Message:

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us,

I heard your call in the nick of time;
The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

11-13 Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (2 Corinthians 6:1-13, MSG)

Paul didn’t waste words. There’s a lot he wanted to share, and his message is concise and urgent.

Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, MSG)

Lord, help me to carry your word with me every day of the week.

Courtney (66books365)

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2 Chronicles 19, 20; Revelation 8; Zechariah 4; John 7

“Don’t you know?” the angel asked.

“No, my lord,” I replied. (Zechariah 4:5, NLT)

A battle awaits. So does an Army.

13 As all the men of Judah stood before the Lord with their little ones, wives, and children, 14 the Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the men standing there. His name was Jahaziel son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite who was a descendant of Asaph.

15 He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” (2 Chronicles 20:13-17, NLT, emphasis added)

There is a question. There is an Answer.

Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’” (Zechariah 4:6-7, NLT, emphasis added)

In destruction, there is a Purpose.

12 Then the fourth angel blew his trumpet, and one-third of the sun was struck, and one-third of the moon, and one-third of the stars, and they became dark. And one-third of the day was dark, and also one-third of the night.

13 Then I looked, and I heard a single eagle crying loudly as it flew through the air, “Terror, terror, terror to all who belong to this world because of what will happen when the last three angels blow their trumpets.” (Revelation 8:12-13, NLT)

From the familiar, there is the Divine.

28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. 29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” 30 Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. (John 7:28-30, NLT)

All throughout the reading, two realms: an earthly one; a spiritual one.

Lord, I fix my eyes on you. My thoughts on you. My strength in you. My hope in you.

Courtney (66books365)

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