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Flee and Pursue

Flee and Pursue

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. In my last post, we saw Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His trial. Now, He’s about to be arrested. You may want to read Luke 22:47-53 before continuing with the rest of this article.

The Lord knew that His captors were approaching. He woke up His disciples and went to meet the officials. It’s interesting to see how the disciples reacted.

When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

Luke 22:49-50 NIV

We know from the other Gospels that this verse is referring to Peter. A fisherman wielding a sword. I’m surprised that he didn’t hurt himself! The best he could do was to cut the ear off of an unarmed servant.

When the other disciples saw the futility of resisting, they all ran away. One of them, when he was grabbed, left without any clothing (Mark 14:51-52). It was the normal, human, fight or flight reaction.

The Lord knew where He was headed. He was looking forward to the victory He was going to accomplish on the cross. So, instead, I want to talk about what was happening with the disciples.

What they did was the normal reaction that’s built into all of us. When we see trouble coming, our entire being begins to prepare to either fight or run away. God placed that in our DNA in order for us to protect ourselves in emergency situations.

The problem is that there’s a spiritual side that many of us fail to grasp. In the spiritual battles that we face, there are times that we need to apply the lessons of “fight or flight”.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:13 NIV

I think Scripture is clear that the first choice is to stand your ground. We need to prepare ourselves spiritually, so that we don’t fall back into our old ways. If you’re strong in the Lord, and understand your place in Christ, then stand and fight that spiritual battle.

If you remember from my last post, Jesus gave this warning to the disciples. Two times He told them to pray in order that they wouldn’t fall to temptation. The time to prepare is before the spiritual struggle.

But, what about those who aren’t in that position? They’ve tried to fight the enemy and merely “cut off a servant’s ear”. They haven’t put on their holy armor.

Many believers find themselves in spiritual battles with no hope of victory. They’ve resigned themselves to falling backwards for the rest of their lives. There is another choice.

Look at what Paul advised a young pastor who he was mentoring.

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

2 Timothy 2:22 NIV

Some of the worst problems we face are when the old man tries to reassert itself. The sins that we thought were long gone are suddenly calling to us again.

This is especially true of addictive sins. Sexual, drug, and alcohol addictions are a few areas that never seem to let up on their assaults. What do you do if your spiritual strength is not enough to overcome? Should you just give in? Absolutely not!

There is a time to flee. Get out of the situation that’s causing the temptation. You must leave the environment that weakens your defenses. There’s nothing shameful about a strategic retreat. It gives you the ability to strengthen your position for the next battle.

However, that’s not the end of the story. There’s a place you need to run into. Along with “fleeing”, we need to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. There must be both fleeing and pursuing if we want a life of victory over evil in our lives.

Question: When have you needed to flee from an overpowering situation?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2023 in Power of God, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Equipped by Prayer in the Spirit

In my last post, we saw that we receive the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit as we pray in the spirit.  In today’s post, I want to show that this is not just a singular occurrence in Scripture.

We are in a spiritual struggle against unseen forces.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12

Contrary to how some people act, our fight is not against people.  As followers of Christ, we’re not struggling against political parties, social issues, or those we see as “sinners”.  The real enemy is the spiritual kingdom that enslaves those in the world system.

We’re in this battle whether we want it or not.  So, we’re told that we need to be spiritually prepared for the struggle.  We’re given the explanation of the armor and Paul concludes in verse 18 by giving us the means by which we arm ourselves – prayer in the spirit.

However, this isn’t the only section of Scripture that talks about our warfare.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Jude 3

Jude was one of the early leaders of the church.  He was a half-brother of Jesus who became a believer after the resurrection.

In this short letter, he explains that he simply wanted to write a brief word of encouragement.  He wanted to bless and uplift those who would receive it.

Instead, once he sat down to write, the Holy Spirit grabbed his attention and caused him to speak of the spiritual battle.  Jude felt the urgency to warn them to diligently contend for the faith.

In Ephesians, Paul was contending against demonic forces.  Jude is contending against false teachings.  But in both cases, they equipped themselves for battle the same way.

Look at Jude’s concluding remarks.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Jude 20

It’s important to note here that the word, “and”, does not appear in the original Greek text.  It should actually be translated, build yourselves up in your most holy faith praying in the Holy Spirit.

We face battles every day.  There are many directions that the attack may come from.  It could be our flesh, the world system, or the demonic kingdom.

In all cases, we prepare for this struggle in the same way.  Both Paul and Jude talked about their battles.  They were two different people in two different struggles.  Yet they both concluded that it was prayer in the spirit that would prepare them for victory.

I don’t know how anybody could read this and say that the gift of tongues is not for today.  We can’t win the victory without it.

They try to justify it by saying that they can pray in the spirit in English – or whatever their native language is.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14

Paul makes it clear that praying in tongues is praying in the spirit.  If you’re using your mind to come up with the words, you’re not praying in the spirit.

Prepare for the battles you’re about to face.  Spend some quality time praying in the spirit.

Question: How much time are you spending in prayer for 2020?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Warfare – What it is and isn’t

I’m posting about the spiritual battles that we find ourselves in.  Having explained the difference between the conflict in the Old and New Testament, I now want to concentrate on how we walk in victory.

The fact is that we’re in a battle.  Not against people, but unseen spiritual forces.  Do we really understand the nature of this conflict?

I’ve heard Christians use the term spiritual warfare in many different contexts.  Does our teaching line up with Scripture?  That’s what matters.

After watching many self-proclaimed spiritual warriors get flattened by the enemy, I have to ask myself what exactly is this about?  We need to base what we’re doing in the Scripture if we want success.

The Bible is clear.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
2 Corinthians 10:1

Unfortunately, many take this verse too far out of context.  Then the church ends up looking like an army of clowns going off to do battle.  They’re unarmed and untrained in this spiritual war.  Then we wonder why the church is so devastated.

At one point the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and made a statement I found hard to accept.  What I heard on the inside was, “Do you realize that there’s been no spiritual warfare for hundreds of years?”

How can this be true?  I hear people say they’re doing spiritual warfare all the time.  We sing about it.  We preach about it.

Eventually, I was able to understand what the Spirit of God was trying to get across to me.  The keyword is warfare.

In the above verse, the phrase wage war literally means to serve in a military campaign.  This is where our definition of spiritual warfare falls short.  Our skirmishes are not warfare.

According to the Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary, war is “a contest between or among nations…carried on by force or with arms.”  That’s where we miss it.  War is between nations, not individuals.

For instance, what if I got upset about some things that Canada is doing (I’m not!).  What if I then covered myself in weaponry, Rambo style, then walked to the border of Canada and declared that I was going to war against them.  How long do you think that “war” would last?

As crazy as that sounds, that’s what many believers do in the spirit.  Then they call what they’re doing spiritual warfare.

We need to realize that true spiritual warfare will not take place until the church wakes up from its sleep.  Then, in the spirit, we must begin to pull down the strongholds of Satan.  This is not just the job of one or two bold Christians.  It’s something that the Lord is calling us all to take part in.

We can either spend our time complaining about our society or do something that will make a difference.  Time on our knees before God will bring great change on the earth.  Prayer, fasting, intercession, and prayer in the spirit are what it will take to bring revival to our land.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to talk about how we prepare ourselves for the spiritual struggles ahead.  It’s all about knowing how our attitudes, weapons, and armor work together to bring the victory we need.

Question: What’s your part in this spiritual battle?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Warfare – Avoiding Battles Through Obedience

I’m taking a couple of posts to glean some principles from the Old Testament.  Even though their fight was in the natural, some of the things they learned can be applied to us.

One of the things I’ve always wondered about is why God seems to make it so hard to obey Him.  God told Israel that He was giving them the Promised Land.  But, in order to claim it, they had to fight giants and other mighty warriors.

Actually, it turns out that there’s more to the story.  It’s a lesson that we should take to heart in our generation.

After the flood of Noah’s day, God’s blessing and anointing were passed on through his son, Shem.  32 years after the flood, Shem had a grandson named Shelah.

When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber.
Genesis 11:14

The name, Shelah means the spear of attack.  Interesting name…his parents must have seen great things in his future.  Actually, we know that Shelah had a deep relationship with the Lord. God spoke to him just like He called out to many in this family line.

Long before Abraham was called, Shelah was given the same orders as Abraham.  He was told to leave his home to follow God’s leading.  The difference is that he never left everything to follow God’s voice.

How do I know this?  Instead of leaving his home, he named his son, Eber – which means the land across the river.  He must have reasoned, “I can’t go, but I’ll have my son obey God’s call.”  It turns out that Eber didn’t leave home either.

Actually, the word, Hebrew, comes from the name Eber.  It means, from the family of Eber.

Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.
Genesis 10:25

Eber had a son around the same time that God destroyed the Tower of Babel.  The Lord divided the nations and people dispersed throughout the world.  So Eber named his son Peleg, which means, divided.

Why is all of this important?  It’s so we can understand the reason for immediate obedience to God.

The enemy knew about God’s call upon the family of Shelah.  I’m sure they talked and even argued about it on more than one occasion.

The devil knew the beautiful land that God wanted to give to this family.  That’s where the Messiah was to be born.  And with Him, the enemy’s ultimate defeat.

So the devil strategically placed his most fearsome, brutal warriors in that part of the world.  He reasoned that “if you want your people to have this land, then you’re going to have to fight me for it.”

The fact is that God called His people to inhabit that land long before the nations were divided.  When God called Shelah, there were no giants in the land.  They could have walked in and taken possession with no resistance.

This is why obedience to God’s voice is so important.  Once we know God’s will, we need to walk it out.  We must take the “high ground” before the enemy can get assembled.

When the devil knows what you want to do for God, his goal is to stop you.  The longer you take to obey God, the more resistance can be prepared against you.

Please understand, the enemy can’t stop you from fulfilling your calling.  But, he can make it more difficult than it would have been if you’d obeyed immediately.

Don’t play into the enemy’s hand.  Find your calling in Christ and then quickly begin walking in it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Question: What’s the next step God is calling you to do?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2019 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

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