Monday, April 29, 2019

Standing on the Promises - Intro.

Whenever we face an enemy we don’t believe we can defeat, unless we get in a lucky hit, we’re probably going to lose. It’s called a psychological defeat. We’ve lost before we’ve even begun. If in our minds they’re too big, too strong or too successful, we’ll lose confidence to attack and instead go into protection mode, like a dog cowering under threat of being hit.

Seven Self-Defeating Psychological Habits That Stymie Success
1. Complaining. Having a problem but no solution.
2. Seeking approval from those whose opinions don’t matter.
3. Blaming others for how you feel.
4. Negative self-talk. Telling yourself you can’t before you even try.
5. Dwelling on the past. Letting what happened yesterday mess up today.
6. Resistance to change.
7. Limiting beliefs.

After WWII the Russians developed the Mig fighter jets. When the Korean War started, our technology had gone in a different direction and we couldn’t defeat them. The kill rate of the Mig made success against them measurably unlikely.

We rushed into developing a new breed of jet fighter. Still the Russians were a step ahead of us.  The kill rate in Korea was 10:1 and even at one time 25:1. Then came the Viet Nam War. Even with new generation fighters, we were still behind. Though the kill rate by the Migs was down to just under 3:1, it was still an unacceptable rate. We began to assume that the Migs couldn’t be beaten.

Fortunately, several Mig pilots defected, their planes captured, analyzed and weaknesses discovered. Then our military found a way to teach those weaknesses to its pilots.

Operation Red Flag was created as a two-week advanced aerial combat training exercise to offer realistic air-combat training for pilots. It was real engagement against an aggressor squadron that adopted Soviet tactics using simulated weaponry lasers instead of rockets to score kills. After the staged combat, the pilots would all return to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas and go over what happened on the range to learn what they did right, what they did wrong, to help them succeed against typical wartime scenarios the Soviets might use against them.

The kill rate dropped dramatically and moved highly into our favor. Today, US trained pilots enjoy air superiority. The Migs no longer terrorize the skies.

What terrorizes your skies? Is there an enemy that, up until now, seems unbeatable? Does just the mention of his name kill your confidence of success? Do you cower the minute he gets you in his sights and locks on?

Eph 2:1-2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 

Paul goes on and gives this prince of the power of the air a name: the devil or Satan. We used to walk according to the pattern of his desires. Walk means we lived under his influence. That influence shaped our thoughts and manipulated our actions. That’s what the Migs did. They gave us the impression they were too powerful. That we couldn’t beat them. We were defeated even before the battle started. That’s Satan’s tactic. Bullying us to believe he is unbeatable as he:
  • Seeks opportunities to exploit our weaknesses,
  • He produces snares, to hold us captive to do his will,
  • He prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour,
  • He takes advantage of us, hinders us,
  • He disguises himself as an angel of light,
  • His servants also disguise themselves as servants of good.

Remember Peter? When he tried to tell Jesus he wouldn’t let Him go to the cross, Jesus said: Matt 16:23 "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." 

Peter wasn’t Satan but he was giving Satan’s input to Jesus, to hinder Him by trying to influence Jesus to give in to Satan’s desires rather than God’s. Satan shows up in moments where we are challenged to trust God.

  • The doctor says we have cancer. Satan tells us we’re going to die. We give up.
  • We have chronic pain. Satan tells us we’ll never get better. We lose hope.
  • Our loved one dies. Satan tells us we’ll never be happy again. We withdraw from life.
  • A friend asks us to pray for her healing. Satan says God doesn’t heal. We won’t pray.
  • We watch the news. Satan says that could happen to you. We tremble in fear.

It’s easy to focus on Satan’s victories. Just last Sunday, his network of evil killed 300 people in Sri Lanka and wounded 500 more, most all of these Christians. ISIS has taken credit for this evil. Vice President Pence said Thursday that the reign of terror carried out by the Islamic State should be labeled "genocide" against Christians.

He said though they also persecute members of other non-Christian faiths and even Muslims who do not share their version of Islam, "these practitioners of terror harbor a special hatred for the followers of Christ.” By his network of evil, Satan rains down terror on the world. World-wide 11 people are killed each day because of their faith.

Eph 6:12-13 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

What an encouraging message today! You might as well be telling us the Migs are taking back the skies. You’re describing an enemy that seems unbeatable. Where’s the good news? Paul goes on to say: Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 

God is saying through Paul, the enemy is big, the enemy is powerful, the enemy is everywhere. But don’t assume he will automatically win. He may seem unbeatable, more powerful, more devious, driving a worldwide network of evil, but if you  armor yourself with the essence of who I am and what I say, you will be able to resist him and stand firm. The enemy can be defeated. He is not almighty. I AM!

In the OT, one of the names for God was el shadday. Shadday means: the one who is sufficient. Interesting that the word used actually refers to a mother’s breast from which her baby is completely supplied and nourished. Adding el to it meant: God is the one who completely supplies and nourishes us. He is the sufficient One. We call Him God Almighty – the One with no limits to what He can do.

Paul said to put on or surround yourself with your God Almighty’s provisions and then stand. Stand on what? Some flimsy, cardboard box? The promises of God. In other words, stand on the sufficiency of God as declared in what He has promised.

Such as: James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 

I draw near to God because I know He is my provision for whatever I face. As I draw near to Him, submitting to Him whatever I face, I am refusing the devil’s assault, forcing him to withdraw. It’s a promise. Based on what? 1Jn 4:4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 

We overcome because Jesus has the authority to rebuke Satan’s efforts. 1Jn 3:8 The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 

What am I basing this on? The promises of God. The promises: what God has said is so.

Remember as kids, we’d go out and tell our brothers or sisters they had to stop doing something or come in to the house. They’d usually challenge our authority. “You can’t tell me what to do.” Then when we’d say, “Momma said so.” Suddenly, they had no choice. “Momma said so” was always the final word.

The promises are the say so of God. He said this, so, that’s what must happen.

2Cor 12:9-10 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 

Paul calls his troubles a thorn of Satan and he admits his weakness in dealing with it. But when he cries out to God Almighty, placing his distress into the hands of his all-sufficient God, he discovers God’s strength is more than adequate to get him through.

In other words, he chose to stand on the promise: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." And from then on, every time Satan wanted to remind him of his hurt, he’d remind Satan of Gods’ promise.

Sometimes we think, when Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant, “I’m done.” And He went to Heaven and sat down to just wait for the Second Coming. No. He was finished but wasn’t through. He completed that phase, now He’s into the next.

2Pe 1:3-4 His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust – overpowering desire

How do we operate within this phase of Jesus’ work? By standing on the promises.
Which brings us to the ultimate question: Can we rely on God’s promises? Yes. Why? Because, as in everything else regarding our salvation, they are based on the faithfulness of Jesus. He is the assurance the promises will be fulfilled.

2Cor 1:20 For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen [our God said so] to the glory of God through us.

We are the recipients of the promises of a God who is Almighty, All-sufficient. Who grants us promises simply because we are His Children. We are never without an answer. Never without hope. Never without a reply to Satan’s insults and accusations. Why? Because we are products of the faithfulness of Jesus and belong to a God who loves us. Therefore: Rom 8:37 in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 

Ever look at a child’s favorite toy? To us it’s generally pretty beaten up, ragged and unattractive. But they love it. To us it looks like it needs to be thrown away and replaced with something better. To them, it’s beautiful.

John Ortberg wrote: There is such a love that creates value in what is loved. There is a love that turns rag dolls into priceless treasures. There is a love that fastens itself onto ragged little creatures, for reasons that no one could ever quite figure out, and makes them precious and valued beyond calculation. This is a love beyond reason. This is the love of God. This is the love with which God loves you and me.

Understanding that, Paul wrote: Rom 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

If your enemy is speaking words of doubt into your mind, influencing you to reject the promises of your All-sufficient, Almighty God, just tell him, uh uh. God said so! 

Never go into battle without God’s say so!

  1. It is often easier to trust in a lie rather than the truth because the lie supports what we imagine is true.
  2. When we accept the lie, we can anticipate defeat because we have given in to the enemy’s strategy for us to replace faith with doubt.
  3. If he can get us to doubt God’s faithfulness, he can manipulate us to disregard God’s promises.
  4. When we disregard God’s promises, we’re standing on flimsy, cardboard boxes shooting blanks.

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