Tag Archives: warfare

It’s a War Out There!

Peninsula Community Church

September 8, 2019

Daniel 10:11-14 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”

Throughout history there have been many great battles. Many of these battles changed history and redirected the destiny of the world. When I think of great battles, I think of the battle of Waterloo, Gettysburg and Antietam in the Civil War, Yorktown in the Revolutionary war, Normandy in WWII, and many more. Yorktown was particularly interesting as this victory was won by a group of poorly organized and untrained men who had an overwhelming desire to achieve freedom for the fledgling nation called America. Their enemy was more powerful and better equipped but they won because they had heart and they had vision. 

As we look at this part of Daniel’s story we find that it is really a story about spiritual warfare and victory that comes from God alone. As we review the story, we understand this is truly God’s story. As I have noted so many times before, the Bible is a story of God’s redemption. While Daniel is just one of the characters God used to bring about the vision of redemption for those in captivity, it was really God’s story. God’s plan had always been to redeem Israel and He was using Daniel to set the stage for that work. Prophetically, God had promised Israel that they would return to Jerusalem and that Jerusalem would be restored as a city and Israel as a nation.

As we pick up this story, we find that Daniel had been praying. He had been praying persistently. He had been praying defiantly. He had been praying confidently. He had faith in His God and He trusted God big time. The problem however is that Daniel was not getting an answer to his prayer. He had prayed and nothing was happening. For many of us we might have given up, but Daniel did not. He continued to pray, and he continued to reach out to God. He trusted God more than anything else or anyone else. His trust was not in his prayers but in the God to whom he was praying. He knew that God would answer in His time and in His way.

At this point in the story, we find that the angel of God appears. Although Gabriel is not directly mentioned in this particular verse, there is an assumption that this was Gabriel as he was the angel God sent to deliver critical messages. Also, we believe this is Gabriel because we find that Gabriel was quick to attend to Daniel’s need in Daniel 9:21. It is noteworthy that the name Gabriel means “God is my strength.” The angel speaks and the words he speaks are powerful and important. The message he shares is a message for us today as much as it was in Daniel’s day.

Notice the first words spoken by Gabriel. Gabriel says that Daniel is greatly loved. He is not just loved, he is greatly loved. Gabriel communicated God’s love for Daniel. God always wanted the best for Daniel in every area of his life, including answered prayer. In this communication, Gabriel is saying that the reason for the unanswered pray is not that Daniel was not loved, but rather that God had a plan for Daniel and the answer had already been set in motion. Too often the enemy makes us believe that because we do not hear from God, we are somehow not loved by God. We can feel forgotten when our prayers are not answered.

Gabriel speaks words of life to Daniel. He let him know that his prayers were being answered. His prayer had already been answered, but the answer was being detained. Notice that Gabriel gave two reasons for the answer to prayer and he gave one reason why the prayer was delayed. The reason Daniel’s prayer was being answered is that Daniel had set his heart to understand and that he humbled himself. His prayer was being held up because there was a battle in heaven.

One of the things that is acknowledged by Gabriel is that Daniel had an understanding of faith and the power of prayer. There is much in life that we do not understand but that must not stop us from praying. How refreshing it is to know that God wants us to understand Him and His word. There is nothing more confusing and heartbreaking than not understanding what God wants from us or being confused about His purpose for our life. Daniel was experiencing dreams and He had been placed before the king at this time to be a servant of the Kingdom of God. Daniel needed understanding and he prayed for that. 

It is also noteworthy that Gabriel praises Daniel for his humility. Daniel had executed a level of humility that had not gone unnoticed by God. The truth is no one else sees or knows our heart, but God sees us and He knows us. He knows our attitude and He knows our heart. He sees us and knows us better than we know ourselves. Many times we are judged and criticized by others but God judges the heart because He knows us and He knows our every thought. 

Know this, God hears our prayers as soon as we pray them even though we do not readily see the answer. We have also been assured through Scripture that God knows our needs before we ask (Matthew 6:8). Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. You see the Pharisees believed that number of words, the repetition of words, and length of one’s prayer would get God’s attention. While that was their belief, the best way to pray is through humility of heart and honesty before God. 

So often God is working behind the scenes and is accomplishing a great work that will be manifested through us and on our behalf. He is at work when it seems that things are dark and we are struggling. God never sleeps nor does He slumber. We need to understand that when we pray God hears our prayer, but sometimes there is a battle that erupts and the answer seems to be afar off. The battle which began in heaven and was reinvigorated in Genesis 3 is still being waged today. It is a battle of what our view of God will be like. That is one of the greatest battles we will face. Does our view of God change when we do not see prayer answered? If our view of God is distorted through unanswered prayer, the enemy of our souls will work overtime to stop our prayers from being answered. He knows that in so doing too many times we will turn from God as our source and provider.

When we pray, sometimes the answer seems to avoid us. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes our prayers are not answered because there is sin in our hearts. When there is unconfessed sin, God is not obligated to answer our prayers. He will answer, but He is not obligated. Sometimes our prayers are not answered because we are asking from the wrong motivation. That is what sin does. It leads us to ask with the wrong motivation in our hearts. James 4:3 states“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

Sometimes our prayers are not answered because of relational issues. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7). This does not mean that we are responsible for the way our wives or others for that matter act, but we are responsible for how we love our wives and how we love others. When we do not honor our spouses, God is not obligated to answer our prayers. 

And then there are times when our prayers are not answered because there is a battle being waged. This is what happened to Daniel. He prayed and his prayer was delayed. Notice that Daniel was not even aware of the battle, but it was happening none-the-less. God is fighting on our behalf even when we do not see it or realize it. This battle was taking place in the heaven-lies. For twenty-one days Michael the Archangel was doing battle on Daniel’s behalf. He was fishing on Daniel’s behalf and he won. Here is the deal, if you are a child of God you need to know that God is fighting for you. He is dispatching His angels on your behalf to conquer what you face. It may take a day. It may take a week. It may take 21 days. It may take a month. What matters is that we keep praying and in due time God will bring the answer we need. 

That is why Paul could says 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 destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

This passage is critical for us. Notice the words here. “I have come because of your words.” Put that together with the words in verse 11: “I have been sent to you.” The point is that God answered Daniel’s prayer as soon as he began to pray three weeks before. From the first day Daniel humbled himself before God, his words were heard. The bottom line is that Gabriel had come to Daniel because of Daniel’s words or in other words his prayers. Know this, you are important to God and He is answering your prayers. You might not see an answer right away. You might be losing hope, but keep praying. Keep holding on. God is working on your behalf. He may have even dispatched angels to fight for you but He is working and His purposes will be accomplished. Let us pray. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Dressed for Battle

Peninsula Community Church 

Dressed for Battle

October 28, 2018 

Ephesians 6:10-13  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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. 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.

In today’s world many professions have a dress code of sorts. Football players wear uniforms. These uniforms identity the team, the player’s number, and their name, usually. The uniform in essence serves to identity who they are, whose team they are on, and it provides a level of protection or security. A fire fighter wears turnout gear which includes a helmet, a jacket, pants, boots, gloves, and ID badge. These items are worn to identify who they are and for protection. A police office wears a uniform with a badge, a bulletin proof vest, a radio, and cameras. These items serve to identify who they are and the vest, camera, and radio serves to protect them. The same is true in regards to the spiritual armor Paul calls us to wear. By wearing the armor, we are identified by our Lord and people know what team we are on. By wearing the armor we are protected from the enemy’s schemes. To be effective we must wear it. It cannot stay in the closet.

It is noteworthy that in our passage, Paul instructs us to put on the whole armor of God. As I was preparing for this, I was struck by the fact that he exhorted us to put on the whole armor, the complete armor, all of the armor. The insinuation is that we are not to go into battle half dressed. Doing so makes us vulnerable and gives room for the enemy to attack the areas not covered by the armor. Without the whole armor of God we are in fact set up for defeat because the enemy is very aware of our weaknesses when we are not fully dressed. Our enemy is the master of distraction. He is the master of deception and falsehood. He is the master of distortion and he seems to know right where to attack because he knows the spots that are uncovered. 

We are to put on the complete armor therefore we cannot pick and choose which part we will wear. We must put on the complete armor. Why is this? It is because we are less than effective when we pick and choose what pieces to wear. Paul exhorts us to stand in God’s strength and we do that best when we put on the whole armor of God. In doing so, we stand and do not give room to the enemy. We stand strong so he does not advance against us or the kingdom of God. As believers, we are to stand because God is the One who wins our battles.

In preparing for this, I was thinking about what Paul exhorted us to do. It was critical enough that he said it twice. I had an amazing thought in this regard. If this armor protects us from the schemes of the enemy, then we need the complete whole armor to fight against and counter those schemes. We cannot go into battle half dressed. For example, it is possible that we can put on the helmet of salvation but fail to put on the belt of truth. We are saved, or at least we believe we are, but our actions and thoughts are not founded in truth, because we do not have the belt of truth securely fastened. The result is that we become tormented by falsehoods, lies, and half truths presented to us. We begin to believe the lies and live as if the lies are true. The result is that we believe we need to work harder, strive more, and be more perfect. We can believe that we are never good enough or righteous enough for God. The result is that we are never satisfied with our relationship with Christ, with others, or our circumstances. We feel defeated because we have not settled the truth in our minds that we are believers who are saved by faith and through His grace.

Without the belt of truth, we will have a distorted view of God and of ourselves. From the beginning of time, the enemy has been at work to distort the truth and cause mankind to believe the lie about who God is and what He requires. It is for that reason, so many think that God is angry with them, and that they have done too much for God to redeem them or set them free. The helmet of Salvation along with the belt of truth leads to correct thinking. 

It is also possible that we can have the helmet of salvation on but fail to strap on the gospel of peace. When this occurs, we tend to look to other sources rather than the gospel of Christ to bring us peace. In the end, this causes confusion about our identity and whose we are. In our world today there are so many voices that are speaking into our life. Media continues to tell us we are not good enough unless we drive a certain car. We are not beautiful unless we wear a certain makeup or drink a certain drink. We are not attractive unless we wear a certain aftershave or dress in a certain way. If we could only win the Mega Ball or the Power Ball drawing! These voices tend to give us a false identity. They cause us to strive to be something that God never created us to be. 

When pastoring in New York, I had a lady call me to ask my advice about a very important subject but I had to chuckle because she prefaced the question with “I have talked to my psychiatrist, my psychologist, my counselor, my medical doctor, and my other pastor, and I was wondering what you thought.” One of her major issues was the confusion she had because too many people were speaking into her life and were giving her conflicting opinions. She was not looking for truth, she was looking for the answer she wanted to hear.

There are a lot of great people in the world with a lot of worldly wisdom and wise sayings. But, we need more than witty sayings, and worldly wisdom, we need the power of God at work in our life. We need the power of the gospel to guide and direct our steps. We need the wisdom of God to be at work in us. That wisdom only comes from the gospel of Christ. When our feet do not have the gospel strapped on we will be misdirected and misguided. That is why David stated so clearly that God’s word was a light unto his path. It was the source of his decision making and it was the source of his hope (Psalm 119:105). Without the Gospel of peace, we can roam aimlessly through life and never realize that we have been called to a greater purpose. That calling is to influence those around us. We are called to go where God leads and do what God calls us to do. 

We can have on the helmet of salvation but fail to secure the breastplate of righteousness. Without the breastplate of righteousness we can believe that we have to work to be good enough. We try to live by the rules without grace. We try to tow the line without the power of God. We fail to remember that we are righteous by His righteousness. It is only through His shed blood on Calvary that we are righteous. It is imputed to us and not earned. That is truth.

We can have the helmet of salvation but forget to wear the sword of the Spirit. The sword is one of two offensive weapons we have. Without the sword of the spirit we are often more reactive than active. We are often misguided in our focus in terms of our enemy and who that is. Without the sword of the spirit we try to fight battles in a way that God never intended. We try to fight battles that have already been fought and won by our Lord. We become weary and tired because we are fighting with weapons God never intended for us to use. When we surrender to the Spirit, we will have His power to assist us and guide us. 

We can also have on the helmet of salvation but not hold the shield of faith to extinguish the fiery darts that the enemy flings at us. Without the shield of faith we are susceptible to the darts and painful parts of life. Sometimes faith is all we have to make it through. We do not see the future very clearly, but faith keeps us going. We do not know how we will endure, but by faith we keep moving forward. After all faith is the assurance of things hoped for and confidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). The fiery darts seek to cloud our vision, but by faith we see through the darkness to the light of day. 

Finally, we can have the helmet of salvation but miss out on the greatest offensive weapon we have and that is prayer. Without prayer we easily become discouraged and distraught. Prayer is the greatest weapon we have in our arsenal. Prayer is our connection with command central. It is our connection with God alone. It is the source of power. 

As a soldier, you would never go to war without proper training, weapons, and protective gear. The Bible is our training guide. Our life experiences and our spiritual walk become our boot camp. The temptations, trials, and attacks we face are all a part of the warfare. As a Christian engaged in spiritual conflicts, you must never leave home without the armor of God! And let me tell you it is much better than American Express. 

As we close, I came across this prayer in regard to the armor of God. Let me share it with you. Equip me, Lord with the belt of truth. May your truth rule in my heart and be in my mind and on my lips today. Equip me Lord with the breastplate of righteousness. Apart from You there is no righteousness, but through Jesus I have been “born again” and made righteous in Your sight. May I live as a righteous person. Equip me Lord with feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. May I reflect the Gospel in my words and actions, that through me, with my every encounter, others may be drawn one step closer to You. Equip me Lord with the shield of faith. May I take You at Your word concerning promises about the present and future—promises of everlasting love, abundant life, and so much more. Equip me Lord with the helmet of salvation. Remind me that nothing can separate me from Your love and that I’ve  been saved by grace. In Your grace, help me to say “no” to all ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life (Titus 2:12,13). Equip me Lord with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. May Your Holy Spirit reign in my life and bring to my mind just the right Bible verses to be in my heart and on my lips. May I be “filled with the Spirit” and ready with Scripture as You were, Jesus, when the devil tempted You. And, finally, keep me in an attitude of prayer. Remind me to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” Cause me to be alert and always praying for the saints; to be joyful and to give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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