“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”Romans 5:3-5
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.
I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.“
“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”– Romans 3:25-26
We see throughout the Old Testament that God shows grace and mercy to His people. He forgave the Israelites’ continual rebellion. He answered all of Gideon’s challenges with His power. He surely didn’t need to! (Judges 6:17-22, 36-40). God had a deep, unique, intimate relationship with Moses despite his past as a murderer and his continual impatience and rash behaviour.
We also read that God is holy and righteous. He is just and cannot come in contact with anything vile or profane. His standard of holiness will not allow it. Humans are evil, sinful and profane, yet we see story after story in the Old Testament of God meeting with His creation and showing them grace.
How can this be?
Romans 3:25-26 tells us! It’s because of Jesus Christ! Because of what He would do on the cross!
His blood-bought salvation is applied to all creation, even to those we read about in the Old Testament.
How is this possible? Jesus had not been born and He had not died and rose from the dead in Old Testament times?
God is outside of time! Jesus was present in creation. His death and resurrection applies to all man-kind, “through all time.”
These men and women looked forward to the day that Christ would come and redeem them from their shackles of shame, guilt and condemnation. It was this faith that activated God’s grace through Jesus Christ to the saints in the Old Testament. (Hebrews 11:13-16, 40)
There is grace and mercy through no one else but Jesus Christ!
Though it was a great mystery to those who lived before Calvary, Christ’s sacrifice still paid for their sins and showered them with His grace.
It was through Christ that Moses could hear God’s voice in the burning bush (Exodus 3) and experience the glory of God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19).
It was through Christ that Gideon could boldly ask the powerful, Holy God to show Himself true! Without grace, he would have been struck dead for his lack of faith and arrogance.
It was through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross that the Israelites were not wiped out in their entirety, when they time and time again murmured, complained and rebelled against the Living God.
Through both the Old and New testaments we see the grace and mercy of God that was purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Christ died once for all! (1 Peter 3:18)
“One day Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost.” But Jonathan did not tell his father what he was doing.
Meanwhile, Saul and his 600 men were camped on the outskirts of Gibeah, around the pomegranate tree at Migron. Among Saul’s men was Ahijah the priest, who was wearing the ephod, the priestly vest. Ahijah was the son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord who had served at Shiloh.
No one realized that Jonathan had left the Israelite camp. To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs that were called Bozez and Seneh. The cliff on the north was in front of Micmash, and the one on the south was in front of Geba. “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
“Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”
“All right, then,” Jonathan told him. “We will cross over and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the Lord’s sign that he will help us defeat them.”
When the Philistines saw them coming, they shouted, “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!” Then the men from the outpost shouted to Jonathan, “Come on up here, and we’ll teach you a lesson!”
“Come on, climb right behind me,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “for the Lord will help us defeat them!”
So they climbed up using both hands and feet, and the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer killed those who came behind them. They killed some twenty men in all, and their bodies were scattered over about half an acre.
Suddenly, panic broke out in the Philistine army, both in the camp and in the field, including even the outposts and raiding parties. And just then an earthquake struck, and everyone was terrified.” -1 Samuel 14:1-15
There are three basic war strategies that every successful army follows:
1. Seek higher ground. Height over your enemy allows you to pin them down easier. Gravity will help your weapons find their targets. The height allows you to outflank your enemy and cut off their escape as they have to traverse upward whereas you may run towards and around them with ease.
2. Have the larger number and /or the best trained soldiers. If the enemy army has a great deal less soldiers then you do then you can overwhelm them by seer numbers. If the enemy has slightly more soldiers but are not well trained your soldiers may overcome them by skill.
3. Have superior weapons. With more enhanced and better constructed weaponry, you may pierce the enemies armour, have a greater impact and advance with more force and speed.
Jonathan left the comfort of his own camp and came into the enemies’ territory. He did not have a battle plan; he did not consider the successful strategies that most human wars are fought with. He did not consider the ground he took his stand, for he climbed up a hill to fight the Philistine army. As stated in verses 12 and 13,
“Come on, climb right behind me,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “for the Lord will help us defeat them!” So they climbed up using both hands and feet…”
Jonathan did not have the numbers in his favour, as it was just himself and his armor bearer, with no chance of more troops arriving as he had left without the rest of the Israelite army knowing where he had gone.
He didn’t have superior fighting skills or weapons. Historically, the Philistines, who were Greeks, were known to have the best weapons, the best trained men, and the best war strategies in that time period.
Here we see Jonathan and his armour barrier taking on a superior trained and much larger army, climbing up a steep hill with their swords and shields hanging off their backs, as they used their hands and feet to climb to certain doom.
However, as we read, they did not die, but conquered.
We too are in a battle which seems hopeless; we too are fighting our way into the camp of the enemy.
Scripture speaks of “the spirit of the world” and that this enemy, which is Satan, has a measure of control over the earth.
1 John 5:19 says,“We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.”
The enemy temporarily has primary influence over the world, but not primary power.
The Bible never presents the enemy as having a great deal of power. Rather portrays him as having a large scope of influence over the people of the world.
Satan is convincing, not powerful, cunning, not wise. He speaks often, but his words are fruitless and empty.
Compared to the power of the living God, Satan is a billow of smoke which covers a great distance, though a simple breeze may blow it away.
However, the Bible makes it clear we live in hostile territory and that we are in a war zone where we must fight. As outlined in 1 Peter 5:8-9:
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”
Ephesians 6:10-13: “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
A real battle
Human wisdom would call Jonathan’s actions foolish. Ignoring the factors in the war. His whole army was back at camp afraid to fight this insurmountable enemy, but he barged in with little regard to the dangers.
Day after day I look at this world and by human wisdom it seems like all beauty and decency, joy, peace and love, will be completely uprooted.
The world is pushing God out of society. At times, it seems like they are successful.
Every level of society has said Jesus is not welcome: In our schools, in our courts, in our law enforcement, in our government. In almost every area of the public square. All perversion, abuse, greed and lawlessness is welcome, but God is not. It is truly hard to live here on earth. These are the factors of our battle.
There is no real power in the things of this world. The devil is all smoke and mirrors. He puffs out his chest and tries to look big. However, let us not forget, he is a defeated enemy.
Jonathan knew that all the obstacles he faced in battle were nothing compared to the God he served.
He says in verse six:
“Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
We are but a few, but we serve a truly powerful God!
2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
“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.”
I know well this battle. I had many struggles when I was young and by the time I was nineteen I grew very depressed and felt as if I was in continual darkness. I knew Jesus was Lord, but I had no victory. I went to Bible camp the summer after my grade 12 year. I was under constant spiritual attacks. I would toss and turn with dreams of demons ripping me apart and during the day I was bombarded with lies from the enemy, that I was not worthy of love, that I was nothing. It got so bad that I decided that I could not take it anymore. During the evening chapel service, I snuck a knife from the kitchen and walked into the forest. As I walked, storm clouds gathered and rain began pouring down. Lightning flashed before my eyes and thunder crashed. I reached a clearing. I hit my knees crying out to God. I prayed that He would take the darkness away, I prayed that He would give me a hope for life.
Suddenly the storm cleared and light cascaded through a tall tree and fell upon my face. I heard the audible voice of God whisper, “Patience”.
I stood up, weeping with joy, for it was at that point that I knew God had a purpose for my life. I was able to walk forward.
Though I battled what seemed to be a large foe, Jesus Christ interceded and brought me out of darkness by breaking through with His light.
I know the battle. More importantly, I know the victory, and where that victory comes from!
Where is the Victory?
Revelation 12:11 says, “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by word of their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.”
Jesus Christ came and died and rose again and beat the power of death and sin in our lives. It is by this act that the battle is already won.
We just need to walk in it!
We can only do this by entering into deep communion with Jesus, we can only do that by being open to His Spirit.
This is what walking in victory looks like.
1 John 5:1-5 says,
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”
When we believe in Jesus Christ, in what He did, in who He says He is, we then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, become Children of God.
But what kind of children are we?
We have all tasted the power of God through initial salvation. However, do we draw close to Him? Do we treat Him like our father? Or do we treat Him like some distant cousin, three times removed, who lives in northern Manitoba, who we only see twice a year?
This is our choice!
What kind of relationship do we choose?
Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can continue in relationship with God, or we can treat Him as an ornament and put Him on the shelf. If that is our choice can we claim we still love Him?
I say, as John does, that to truly love God we must follow Him in close relationship.
For so long I found it so difficult to follow God’s commandments. It was a struggle daily and the message in 1 John was a thorn in my side, because in verse 3 it says, “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.”
I found the commandments burdensome. Every day I felt tempted, every day I had this back-and-forth fight that left me drained. This was because I kept Jesus at arm’s length, I wanted some of Him, but not all of Him. I did not allow the Holy Spirit to fully remove all the pride and selfish ambition that made it impossible to consistently keep His commands, which made it impossible to truly love Him.
Love takes action, and the action I needed to take, I refused to make. So, faith became dull and mundane, until I began to call out to God! I went to my knees in the mud and dirt of my life, confessed, repented and let go of the things that I held onto so firmly.
The Holy Spirit rushed in and relationship began to blossom. Now keeping His commandments is not burdensome!
Deep relationship is the key! It makes keeping His laws the most natural thing in the world.
As I daily walk with Him, speaking with Him, praying, reading and studying His word, I shed the old man, and grow into the son He made me to be. As I keep His commandments and love Him, The Holy Spirit’s power grows in me and there is victory. He peels away with strong conviction, “the ways that seem right to a man.”(Proverbs 14:12,16:25) I die to myself daily and live in Him.
I am far from perfect, and He continues to renew my mind and heart. This process will never end but it’s not burdensome, but exciting. “What’s next Lord?” is my response. It is by His grace that He has removed all the junk in my life. I am so thankful for where He has brought me and where He is leading me.
There needs to be this victory in our hearts for there to be any victory in this world!
How am I to go into battle when I don’t allow the Holy Spirit in? This same Holy Spirit that Jesus fought and died for to get inside of me.
This is why the world looks so dismal and scary to many in the Church, because they cannot get past the “I do’s” in the marriage feast of the Lamb. They will not allow God to fully take root in their hearts, they will not commit to Him, nor have an open and honest relationship. They, as I once did, hold onto all the vile garbage that keeps them from moving forward. They hug what hurts them and place what stinks on their mantles.
There are no step-children in the Kingdom of God, only children who refuse accept their son-ship.
“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.”(1 John 5:4)
When we accept who we are in God and let the Holy Spirit in, we become Children of God.
We will begin to whip that old devil every day. We will defeat this evil world. Though there will be trials and hardships, the victory we experience will overshadow all darkness.
“And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:5)
We will battle. We, like Jonathan, will win. For God is for us, ahead of us and in us. When we are in Christ who can be against us?
Romans 8:29-31 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us.”
“So they climbed up using both hands and feet, and the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer killed those who came behind them. They killed some twenty men in all, and their bodies were scattered over about half an acre. Suddenly, panic broke out in the Philistine army, both in the camp and in the field, including even the outposts and raiding parties. And just then an earthquake struck, and everyone was terrified.
Saul’s lookouts in Gibeah of Benjamin saw a strange sight—the vast army of Philistines began to melt away in every direction. “Call the roll and find out who’s missing,” Saul ordered. And when they checked, they found that Jonathan and his armor bearer were gone. Then Saul shouted to Ahijah, “Bring the ephod here!” For at that time Ahijah was wearing the ephod in front of the Israelites. But while Saul was talking to the priest, the confusion in the Philistine camp grew louder and louder. So Saul said to the priest, “Never mind; let’s get going!” Then Saul and all his men rushed out to the battle and found the Philistines killing each other. There was terrible confusion everywhere. Even the Hebrews who had previously gone over to the Philistine army revolted and joined in with Saul, Jonathan, and the rest of the Israelites. Likewise, the men of Israel who were hiding in the hill country of Ephraim joined the chase when they saw the Philistines running away. So the Lord saved Israel that day, and the battle continued to rage even beyond Beth-aven.” (1 Samuel 14:13-23)
Jonathan’s actions brought about a huge victory for Israel. It was his faith in the power of God which opened the door for the rest to rush in with confidence. The power of God moved through his obedience
When we begin walking as Children of God, the Holy Spirit will move us into position on His battle field. As we begin to see victories, we will encourage those around us to break through with us.
We need to be on the front lines, pushing through the impossible!
For so long, I under-estimated the power of God. I under-estimated Him, because I didn’t fully accept the Holy Spirit. I said I believed in miracles, but I didn’t believe that I had any part in His working of them. I didn’t value them.
As I have allowed the Holy Spirit to plant Himself deeply in my heart, Matthew 10:7-8 has moved my Spirit:
“Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!”
God wants us to go forth with open hearts to His Spirit’s moving.
Every soldier needs to take action in battle or they will perish. In the Kingdom of God, every action we take must be dedicated to the King of Kings, every action done in boldness for His glory. We must take action, or others will perish.
If we do not act, we allow the spirit of this age, the spirit of Antichrist to take deeper root in our society.
God became flesh and blood and dwelt among us; Jesus died and rose again so that He could live in us. The Holy Spirit dwells upon us so we can beat the hell out of this world, so we can beat the devil daily. He has no authority where the sons and daughters of God tread. We must face his strongholds daily and have the confidence to speak against the false spirits of this age.
A number of months back, Jasmin and I attended a night of Muy Thai fights. We left the kids with Jasmin’s mom and had a date night. We were having an a enjoyable evening, hollering and cheering at the combatants. All of a sudden I felt the Holy Spirit come upon me in a very peculiar way. My hand started tingling and became unnaturally warm. The building in which the fights were held was well air conditioned and it was cold enough to warrant a light sweater. Soon my whole arm became warm, and then my whole right side. I began to ask God what He would have me do. As the presence of the Spirit grew, so did the urge to release the love and power that was placed upon me. I longed to move in the Spirit’s flow and felt as if this heat was for healing. I looked two yards away from me and saw a man confined in a wheel chair, I asked “Should I go and pray for him Lord?” The Holy Spirit told me that I was to wait for someone to come to me. That was very nice as I felt free to sit and enjoy the fights. One of Jasmin’s friends had a fight and she came out of her corner doing very well, however, early on she had lost her luster and had lost the bout. As she departed the ring, the young lady who was sitting beside us the whole night left with her boyfriend to go for supper. Jasmin’s friend, (we will call her Anna), saw this seat was free and came to sit with us. She had an ice pack on her ankle. She explained that early on in the bout she had landed a bad kick which had injured her ankle. She was in a great deal of pain. As we were talking she explained that she would go for Reiki treatment tomorrow. I inquired, “What is Reiki?
Anna explained, “Well I go to this lady who will lay hands upon my injury, her spirit will go to the soreness or stiffness and will heal it. We all have a core spirit and when administered in the right way it often brings healing, it doesn’t always work.” The subject quickly changed to the fights that were still going on. I knew this was the opportunity that the Holy Spirit had orchestrated. I brought the converstation back to the injury and said, “I don’t know about Reiki but I know healing. If your open to it, we can try something.” She agreed wholeheartedly. I asked Jasmin to place her hand on Anna’s ankle. I then placed my hand upon Jasmin’s hand. I prayed in the name of Jesus for healing and by His blood, which covers all sickness and death. Just a quick simple prayer.
I asked, “How do you feel?”
Anna replied with a smile on her face, “This will sound weird, but I felt warmth go all the way up from my feet through my leg.”
“That doesn’t sound weird at all, is the pain gone?” I said in response
“It was but it is coming back now”
I immediately reached my hand forward and prayed, “In the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit, pain be gone.”
I then turned my head and looked her right in the eyes. “Now I want to make this clear. The power you felt go through your leg, was not from my spirit. My spirit was not what took the pain away, it was the Holy Spirit and the power of Jesus Christ.”
She accepted that and that was the end of the conversation. I believe that true Spirit of Jesus Christ will stay with her. Because of that interaction she knew what the true Spirit felt like. Compared to the Holy Spirit, those false spirits she has opened herself up to will be proven counterfeit.
Although it didn’t it seem apparent to her, through my prayers I confronted a false spirit with the true Spirit of Christ. This is a picture of daily warfare. Our war, is a war that is to bring peace to this conflicted world. Only the Holy Spirit brings peace: all other spirits of the world bring pain and bondage.
We must be open to the Holy Spirits direction, so we can be the light this world desperately needs. It’s not all about the miraculous. But it is all about Jesus!
We walk in power through the name of Jesus
We speak against the false spirits in Jesus name
We call out sickness and disease in Jesus name.
We pray for others in Jesus name.
We feed and clothe the needy in Jesus name
We love and care for others in Jesus name
We influence the world for the Gospel by the power of Jesus Christ.
“Freely you received, freely give.”
If you see a need, meet that need in Jesus’ name.
A Call to Action
When Jonathan pushed forward into the enemies’ camp, God’s power moved through him and the enemy fell. Their defences were in disarray. God shook the highground on which the enemy stood and they fell before the power of God.
As we live in this world, we move in the enemies’ territory every day. We move with power by the Holy Spirit and lay claim, not to human monuments or land, but to the very souls of the men and women of this world whom God loves and calls dear. We fight an enemy who is defeated and broken.
This week may you be moved into new territory, asking the Holy Spirit to lay claim to the deepest caverns of your heart. May you move in His power and gain victory in every area of your life. May you gain ground on the battle lines. May the power of the Holy Spirit move in and through you. May you see a great harvest in every sphere of your daily life. May you be used to bring many lost children back to God, so we will all, one day, in one voice, shout out, “Abba Father!”
May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may His face shine upon you. In the name above all names, Jesus Christ.