Monday, September 24, 2018

Spiritual Conflict Pt 1

I was saying to one of our men the other day how getting sick is a way Satan targets my life to take me down. He said, “You know, stress can cause that, too.” Natural occurrence or Spiritual conflict? In another conversation, one of our men and I were discussing the fact that a gas line was out of place in our property and on no records held by the gas company. I felt Satan’s hot breath. He said, “These things happen in construction.” Natural occurrence or Spiritual conflict? Believe it or not, someone complained about something at our church. I felt a dart hit me in the heart, turned and saw Satan taking aim with another. Then I realized the person was only expressing a preference, an opinion that didn’t require me to do anything. Natural occurrence or Spiritual conflict?

Spiritual Conflict has always confused me. I read Paul: Eph 6:12 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.

I come back with some scenario of angels fighting demons in a realm beyond what we can see. I hear Michael, the Arch Angel, telling Daniel how he was delayed responding to Daniel’s prayer because he was in conflict with the Prince of the kingdom of Persia. I’ve envisioned angels holding back demons from attacking my boys as I pray for them.

But recently I’ve been seeing many things that I’ve considered spiritual attacks against me, my family and our church, so I had to look into what is spiritual conflict? How is it different from ordinary life challenges? Can being sick be a spiritual attack? Can a delay in construction caused by an unknown gas line, be a spiritual attack? Can a complaint that feels like a personal attack from someone either within the church or from the outside be spiritual conflict?

I needed a working definition. What is the difference between a natural occurrence and Spiritual Conflict? Here it is: Spiritual Conflict is any conflict in our life that challenges whether God is enough.

Spiritual Conflict can come in prayer when I don’t have faith to believe what I’m saying.
  • It can come in temptation when I don’t find the will to resist.
  • It can come in testing when I give in to defeat even before I’ve cried out for help.
  • It can come in attacks of illness or accidents or diagnoses when my misery stifles my desire to take my burden to the Lord and leave it there.
  • It can come in moments that require a godly response rather than a worldly attitude.

 1Sam 17:1 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; and they were gathered at Socoh which belongs to Judah…Saul and the men of Israel were gathered and camped in the valley of Elah, and drew up in battle array to encounter the Philistines. The Philistines stood on the mountain on one side while Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them. Then a champion came out from the armies of the Philistines named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was clothed with scale-armor which weighed five thousand shekels of bronze. He also had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and the head of his spear weighed six hundred shekels of iron; his shield-carrier also walked before him. 

Height: 9’6”  --  Armor weighed: 125 lbs.  --  Tip of spear: 15 lbs.

All that does is add drama to the story. David was out manned, out-resourced and way in over his head.

1Sam 17:8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel and said to them, "Why do you come out to draw up in battle array? Am I not the Philistine and you servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will become your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall become our servants and serve us." Again the Philistine said, "I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together." When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. 

All fear has some grounds.
·       Past experience – Philistines have defeated Israel before
·       Undefeatable foe – Goliath’s reputation matches his size and strength
·       Likelihood of failure – I might be killed

1Sam 17:16 The Philistine came forward morning and evening for forty days and took his stand. 1Sam 17:24 When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid. The men of Israel said, "Have you seen this man who is coming up? Surely he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel." Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?" 

Change of perspective: Goliath was challenging the armies of Saul. David said Goliath was challenging the armies of the living God.

Suddenly this physical battle becomes a spiritual conflict.

In a natural battle we ask:
·       What is the problem?
·       What am I going to do about it?
In a Spiritual conflict we ask?
·       What’s the problem?
·       What is God going to do about it?

If I only see the conflict as natural, I will run the scenario through my abilities. My hope for success will be based on the confidence I have in an outcome I can bring about. But if I see this as God’s fight on my behalf, I rest in the outcome He produces.

Spiritual conflict is not challenging my ability to get through difficult times, it is challenging me to determine if God is enough and can I trust Him. And David was the only one who saw it.

1Sam 17:31 When the words which David spoke were heard, they told them to Saul, and he sent for him. David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." Then Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth." 

Saul: You are not equipped for this fight.
David: I am probably the only one here who is equipped for this fight.

1Sam 17:34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God." And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and may the LORD be with you." 

1Sam 17:38 Then Saul clothed David with his garments and put a bronze helmet on his head, and he clothed him with armor. David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. So David said to Saul, "I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them." And David took them off. 

You’re asking me to trust in armor I’ve never worn before to fight a fight that isn’t about armor and weapons. I go out in the name of the Lord Most High. I’ve tested that name. He has been faithful. He has rescued me in the past. This is just another opportunity to see that faithfulness again.

The taunts of Goliath were like walls being built up. Each taunt raised the level of the wall to where it was now impenetrable - like a fortress. But to David, 2Cor 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 

1Sam 17:40 He took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd's bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine. 

In natural conflict you don’t take a knife to a gun fight. But in Spiritual Conflict you can take some rocks and a sling to fight a giant who has a sword and spear. Weapons used in Spiritual Conflict don’t have to match up against the weapons of a natural adversary because this isn’t natural conflict.

1Sam 17:41 Then the Philistine came on and approached David, with the shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance. The Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine also said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field." Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD'S and He will give you into our hands." 

Why not – God will give you into my hands? This was the Lord’s battle – a spiritual conflict – and David was merely the vehicle through which God was going to do His work. David wasn’t making the guarantee of killing Goliath based on what he could do but on what God has done and will do to demonstrate He is enough to take on giants. It was God working through David. David plus God was way more than enough.

Mouse on the head of the elephant – “We really shook up that old bridge.”

In Spiritual Conflict: The battle isn’t ours. We aren’t responsible for the outcome. Our job is to be there as a conduit through which God will be glorified. Our job is to declare God is enough!

1Sam 17:48 Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David's hand. 

1Sam 17:51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 

Why did David need a sword? Goliath was already dead.

Those not engaged in the spiritual battle can only believe what they see. David had to remove Goliath’s head so the people would see he was dead. And that may be all they see. The rock from the sling proved God was enough. The sword just helped those who couldn’t see the spiritual conflict know that the battle was over.

What do you need to see to know God is enough?

John 14:5-8 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 

No, Philip, it’s just backwards. Until you know I am enough for you, you will never see the Father. Until you know God is enough you will never see Him as enough.

Sometimes it just feels like Satan is a Goliath, standing there taunting us, setting up his gates to suggest he is impossible to defeat. If we’re not careful, our hearts and minds will believe him, especially when we look at our insurmountable circumstances. We will crumble, believing Satan is winning. If that’s the way you feel today, remember:
·       Satan’s cannot win—he is a cast down foe. God has already judged him.
·       He cannot win—God has revealed his future. He has nothing but defeat ahead.
·       He cannot win —The hedges God has placed around us prevent him from free reign over us. 
·       He cannot win —He’s been proven a liar. His threats are just lying threats.
·       He cannot win —Jesus declared victory against him on the Mount of Temptation.
·       He cannot win —Jesus overcame him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
·       He cannot win —Jesus disarmed his powers through His Cross on Calvary.
·       He cannot win —His end is predetermined: eternal judgment. It cannot be changed.
·       He will never win—Because he will never be greater than He who is in us.

Pastor decided a visual demonstration would help make his point. Four worms were placed into four separate jars. Into the first he poured alcohol. In the second cigarette smoke. The third chocolate syrup. The fourth good clean dirt. At the end of the message he said: The first worm in alcohol – dead. The second worm smoke – dead. Third in chocolate syrup – dead. The fourth – alive. He asked the congregation, "What did you learn from this demonstration?" Maxine was sitting in the back quickly raised her hand and said, "As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!"

1.      The difference in a natural conflict and a spiritual battle is the hidden challenge of whether God is enough.
2.     Whenever that question arises, the path to resolution, the intended outcome and the weapons of warfare change.
3.     The issue isn’t the size of the enemy, the issue is God’s proven ability to get me to victory.
4.     Victory isn’t whether the enemy dies or not. It is: have I represented God accurately and well?

5.     When I don’t recognize the spiritual nature of the conflict, I will fight as a desperate man whose only hope is in a limited outcome achieved by my own strength. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Connection Sunday 2018

One of Paul’s greatest concerns was division within the fellowship of believers. He addressed this in 1 Corinthians accusing them of picking sides to follow their favorite leader: 1Co 3:1-9 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building

What were they doing? Separating from God’s building and dividing into their own little shacks.

A man was shipwrecked and lived for years alone on an obscure, uncharted island. One day a ship came by, saw his signal and sent a rescue party ashore. He showed them around the island. He pointed to a small hut. "This is my house." Then he showed them another hut. "This is where I go to church."  They asked about a third hut. “Oh, that’s where I used to go to church."

Paul believed division within would destroy the church, more than outside enemies.

He wrote: Eph 4:1-3 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

Unity was his essential goal. But unity is more than just staying together. You can tie two cats together and not have unity. Paul had much more in mind.

He laid this out in Philippians: Phil 2:1-2 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.  

"A great unit, whether it be sports, the military or any organization, shares the same heartbeat."

Four areas our hearts ought to beat together:
1st area – Same Mind: Let the mind of the master be the master of your mind. It’s called being on the same page.

Phil 2:5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 
Word attitude means: the exercise of the mind
·       Mind controls thoughts.
·       Thoughts control actions.
·       Actions reflect identity.

2Co 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 

The battle for unity begins in my mind, to take captive or takes control over thoughts raised up against: Phil 4:8 whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute 

Are my thoughts denying what’s true, what’s right, what’s best because they’re what I want to be true, right or best? That’s why we should never argue over opinions or preferences.

How are we protecting our minds? Seeking God’s thoughts and God’s ways.

2nd area of heartbeat – Same love: Phil 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Christian love is selfless love.

Luke 6:32-33 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 

We’re called to a higher obligation of love. Because, by our love, we also define ourselves: John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

If Jesus is going to have our love define us, we’d better work on loving. In fact, it’s such an important part of the fellowship of a church, Paul says it’s the glue that holds us together. Col 3:14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

1Pet 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Love makes us tolerable. I may not like you or your actions, but I can love you and even lay down my life for you.

How are we protecting our fellowship? Loving.

3rd area of heartbeat – In Spirit
Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

John 16:13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;

The Spirit is the One who leads us to the truth, reveals what we need to know and shows us what we need to do. He convicts us of what’s wrong and convinces us what’s right.

How do you unify in the Spirit? Eph 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. 1Thess 5:19  Do not quench the Spirit; Agree not to disagree with the Spirit.

1Cor 2:9-12 THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 

If we are led by the Spirit, we should agree about what we believe about the Bible, who God is and how He does what He does. The Spirit will not tell one person one thing and another something else.
During WWII the P-38 Lightning was one of the most effective planes for the United States. The United States gave some to the British, but their pilots were not as effective as the American pilots. It wasn’t their skills. We left off the supercharger. The P-38s are more powerful with the superchargers. In the same way, we are not living life to the fullest without our supercharger… the Holy Spirit. 

How are we protecting our power source? Yielding to Him. Not grieving or quenching Him.

4th area of heartbeat – Intent on one purpose:
Rom 15:5-7 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. 

With our unified mind we declare Jesus is our Lord. With our unified voice we honor our God beyond all else. It’s like us all cheering for the same team. We know no one around us but when we cheer for the same team suddenly we’re family. When we’re family, we accept one another as we have been accepted by Jesus.

The Samurai sword is considered the best sword in the world. These warriors needed a sword that was hard enough to hold its sharp edge, but at the same time soft enough not to shatter on impact. The skill is fulfilling both needs in one sword. The forging process involved taking multiple layers of hard and soft steel, heated, folded and hammered together over and over again. A sword can have thousands of paper-thin laminations of hard and soft metal. Then the sword is tempered in cold water. The result is a weapon with extreme pliability and a blade that will stay sharp.

Just as Japanese sword makers hammer together layers of steel to produce a sword that will meet Samurai demands, God forms a church out of…us. Some of us are brittle, fragile, carrying hurts from years of abuse and misuse. Others are pliable, soft, loving, caring, supportive. Some are strong from years of testing and study and relying on God. Some are weaker, because they are young in the Lord or negligent in their growth. But all of us hammered into the one blade to make us an incredibly strong church.

In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy demands that Linus change TV channels and then threatens him with her fist if he doesn’t. "What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?" asks Linus. "These five fingers," says Lucy. "Individually they are nothing, but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold." "What channel do you want?" asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, "Why can’t you guys get organized like that?"

2Cor 10:3-4 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 

The minute we begin to minimize the importance of who we are, what we believe, what comprises our fellowship, how important the Holy Spirit is and what is our ultimate purpose, we become weak and vulnerable. But together, we are strong and divinely powerful.

Aesop’s Fable: In the forest, there lived four oxen. They were very good friends and always went together to graze in the fields. However, every time they went, a hungry lion tried to attack them. But they withstood his attack by fighting him as a team and the lion fled to another forest. One day, the four oxen began fighting among themselves. They started going to the forest separately. When the lion returned, he saw that the group was divided. He planned to take advantage of this situation. Finding the first ox grazing in the fields alone, he crept from behind and ate him up. The next day, he attacked the second ox and killed it too. On his next trip he killed the third and then the fourth. Had the four oxen stayed together, they wouldn't have lost their lives. Moral Lesson: "United we live, divided we will be killed.” Or from a more modern version: "United we stand, divided we fall". 
Or as Jesus said: Matt 12:25 A house divided against itself will not stand.

How are we protecting our purpose? Staying united.

  1. How are we protecting our minds? Seeking God’s thoughts and God’s ways.
  2. How are we protecting our fellowship? Loving one another.
  3. How are we protecting our power source? Yielding to the Holy Spirit. Not grieving or quenching Him.
  4. How are we protecting our purpose? Staying united.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Life Hurts God Heals Pt 5

Video Seabiscuit.

When Jesus initiated His ministry, He stood up in the Synagogue and read Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; 
We can easily identify with the afflicted and the brokenhearted, but few of us have ever been captives or prisoners.

Now when Luke recorded this, he used a different word than prisoner. He used the word oppressed. TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSEDI do have some experience with oppression.

The word means: prolonged, cruel or unjust treatment or control. A sense of being weighed down in body or mind due to the pressure exerted by a person or a group. It could be mental pressure or distress caused by expectations or rules, things said or things done.

The word oppress comes from a Latin word meaning – pressing down.

Hosea gave us a visual: Hos 12:7 A merchant, in whose hands are false balances, He loves to oppress. Pressing down the scales to make people pay more for their purchase.

A variety of things can cause the pressing down of oppression, but the result is the same: we act according to the pressure exerted on us or within us.

Seabiscuit was used to train other racehorses. He’d run hard with them, then, to build up the confidence of the other horse, the jockey would pull him back and let the other horse win. He was pressed down to the role of loser. That oppression shaped his life. He had forgotten the freedom of simply being a racehorse.

There is a simplicity of life within being a Christian. A walk that is natural and fulfilling. Oppression, however, can be like a force of driving clay into a mold, pressing us into a shape different than who we are.

Paul writes in Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world. The word conformed means pressed into a mold. And the shape of that mold is a worldly mindset.

This was Israel’s besetting sin: conforming to her surroundings. God had warned them: Deut 18:9 When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 

He was telling them: Do not pattern your lives from the lives of the godless. What will happen? You will forget who you are and start acting like someone you are not.

What’s this got to do with oppression? Conformity to the wrong shape is the goal of oppression.
The first use of the word oppress or oppression showed up in the story of Israel having gone into Egypt. What began as an amazing example of God rescuing His people from a famine by strategically having Joseph sent down there, ends with slavery.

Ex 3:9 Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.

Deut 26:7 Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression;

Act 7:34  'I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.' 

The oppression by the Egyptians and the deliverance led by Moses became the pivotal story of Judaism. From that story they got their identity as the People of God, and their trademark experience. They once were free, then became slaves. They were oppressed, but God set them free. Deut 10:22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons in all, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven. A family went into Egypt, a nation came out.

For this new nation to survive, God had to set up the boundaries for how they lived.

Josh 23:6-8 Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day. 

Josh 24:15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." 

Judges 2:6-16 When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land. The people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD which He had done for Israel. Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110. All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger. So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Then the LORD raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. 

The promise was: If they would keep to the things written for them and allow those truths to form their identity, all would be well. But the minute they chose an identity different than the one that said: We are the People of God, oppression came. Then, God would wait until the oppression brought them to their knees and would send a deliverer. That roller coaster became their story from then on.

Isa 30:12-13 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, "Since you have rejected this word and have put your trust in oppression and guile, and have relied on them, therefore this iniquity will be to you like a breach about to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant, 

The security of the wall around them, the hedge of protection, would crumble because they transferred their trust over to what was actually causing their oppression. A steel worker and the wind. The message: Don’t count on life as usual when you choose to trust in something other than our God being Lord of your life.

When Peter described us as the People of God, he used some of the same language God had used telling the Jews who they were: 1Pet 2:9-10 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. 

He’s establishing our identity. This is who we are. So, when the oppressor comes, and we feel the pressure to conform to a shape inconsistent with this identity, we have a legacy of warnings not to give in. But, more than the warning, we have an advantage Israel didn’t have. We don’t have to wait for God to raise up someone to come help, our help is already here.

John 14:16-17 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

Not only did He promise the Holy Spirit, look at what that means to us: 1Jn 4:4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them [those who oppress]; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 

1Cor 2:12-13 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit,

The message from the Spirit will fill your life in abundance. The message from the world will steal your joy, kill your hope, destroy your future.

Ecc 7:7  Oppression makes a wise man mad. When? When he tries to live as though what isn’t true is true.
But what if I really do believe what I’ve been told?
·       You’re too: what – fat, skinny, short, tall, plain, stupid.
·       You can’t: sing, dance, talk, tell jokes, play, belong.
·       You’re no good at: sports, music, art, writing, singing.
·       You don’t: measure up, act right, have enough talent, fit in.
·       You aren’t: attractive, interesting, funny, serious, their type, the right color.
Consider the source: people who tell you those things don’t have the authority to do so.

But what about our spiritual identity? What if we’ve been lied to spiritually.
  1. God doesn’t care about you. 
  2. What you’re going through doesn’t matter.
  3. God can’t help you.
  4. God doesn’t heal anymore.
  5. You don’t have what it takes to live the Christian life.
  6. Your life has no plan or purpose.
  7. You’re the exception to the promises.

What does the Spirit say:
  • We’re overcomers – no exceptions.
  • No one or no thing can snatch us out of God’s hand – no exceptions.
  • God loves us with an everlasting love – no exceptions.
  • God heals what hurts us – no exceptions.

Whether the oppression comes from being mislead, mistaken, misdirected, or flat out lied to, whether the oppressor is an illness, a relationship, a heartache, or a spiritual disappointment, the answer is the same: We need to know the Truth.

Jesus: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Not knowing what is true, but knowing Who is that truth? Jesus: I am the truth…

Whatever is pressing you down into a mold that makes you think or act like you are without a Heavenly Father who loves you and cares for you and has plans for you and will work all this toward good, rebuke it. Tell that oppression: Jesus is my hope.

I got a knock at the door. It was Satan as a roaring lion with lies to oppress me. I said, “Jesus, it’s for You.”

1.      Knowing what is true keeps us from becoming confused when we are lied to.
2.     If we respond to life challenges with a secure identity, we may still feel overwhelmed but never oppressed.
3.     We become oppressed when we forget we are Children of God, indwelt by the One who overcomes on our behalf.
4.     When we feel the pressure to conform to the world’s pattern in dealing with our troubles, refuse it, take that trouble to the Lord and let Him handle it.
5.     If we’ve become oppressed, confess it and ask God to heal the damage it is causing.